Maximo Park launched their 5th Album yesterday, called “Too Much Information” in a series of small intimate gigs across their hometown of Newcastle. They started off at the independent Reflex Records at 3pm playing an acoustric track instore followed by a signing session for the fans that were there. There was another instore appearance at Newcastle’s other independent record store “RPM Records” at 4pm and a third instore appearance at 5pm at the HMV megastore on Northumberland Street right in the centre of town. Part of the upper floor had been cordoned off for the band to play and the rest of the huge floor area was left open for the large expected turnout.
I caught up with the band at HMV, grabbing a spot close to the front about 20 minutes before the band were due on stage and the place quickly filled up with hundreds of expectant fans. 5pm came and went with no sign of the band turning up so the previous instore at RPM probably went on later than expected. They appeared at 5:30 and after a bit of banter from Paul they started the set with their new single taken from Too Much Information called ‘Brain Cells’ a song about Paranoia and Euphoria colliding on a night out. Two more tracks from TMI followed, the first ‘Leave This Island’ was followed by ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’. Back in time now to their first CD “A Certain Trigger’ for the track that regularly opened their set in the early days ‘Signal and Sign’. A couple more new tracks from TMI ‘Midnight On The Hill’ and ‘Where We’re Going’ and the last track was the only one it could be, ‘By The Monument’. This was a great set from Maximo Park lasting about half an hour showcasing 5 songs from the new CD and a couple of old ones for good measure. It was a full band performance but the ‘drums’ consisted of only a snare and a conga type drum giving the songs a stripped down feel to them. There was a new guy on a Rickenbacker Bass as well, I’m not sure what happened to Archis and his Music Man Bass.
The gig finished at 6pm which left three hours to kill before doors opened at the Bridge hotel so it was time to hit the town for a couple of beers, finishing up in the Bridge itself around 8:30.
At just after 9pm there was a steady stream of people heading to the tiny room upstairs, all displaying their red wristbands which were all (there were only 70!!) sold in a couple of hours the previous day in Reflex Records. It didn’t take long for the room to fill up and the handpump dispensing Maximo Park’s specially commissioned beer “No5” from local award winning brewery Mordues was in almost continuous action. They hit the stage at about 9:45 and after Paul screams out “We are Maximo Park” they start with ‘Give, Get, Take’ from “Too Much Information” with the vocals a little low in the mix from where I was standing, a couple of feet back from the front of the stage in front of Paul. The crowd went wild now for ‘Our Velocity’ with everyone singing along and the sound engineer managed to get Paul’s vocals at a decent level, then it was back even further in time for ‘Signal and Sign’ for the second time of the day. A bit of banter from Paul about not reading things about the band served as an introduction to a storming ‘The National Health’ then it was time for the latest single ‘Brain Cells’. Back to the album “The National Health” again for ‘Hips & Lips’ and another old favourite from “Our Earthly Pleasures” introduced as a blast from the past ‘A Fortnight’s Time’. Two more songs from TMI now, the first ‘Lydia, The Ink Will Never Dry’ sounded better than earlier in the day at HMV. “Has anybody tried our beer yet?” got a massive roar from the crowd before ‘Leave This Island’ which was followed by another old set regular ‘Books From Boxes’. A bit more banter from Paul about how he and Lukas actually met in the very room they were playing in was followed by another two tracks from TMI the first ‘Drinking Martinis’ about drinking in a bar called Tokyo and ‘My Bloody Mind’. A couple of older tracks now, the first ‘The Undercurrents’ from “The National Health” and another old favourite ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ which also had everyone singing along. ‘Her Name Was Audre’ another new one from TMI preceded the magnificent ‘Apply Some Pressure’ then it was back for the last visit to TMI for ‘Midnight On The Hill’, ‘I Recognise The Light’ and ‘Where We’re Going’ before the last track of the night ‘Going Missing’.
A superb set lasting 70 minutes, there was no encore even though everyone was chanting for one as they had passed curfew. Highlight of the gig for me was Our Velocity and Apply Some Pressure, and it would have been even better if they had time for an encore of Graffiti which was sadly missed.
The mystery Bass player was still there, nothing from Paul to indicate why Archis wasn’t in the line-up
It’s not just for this album launch that they do in-stores, signing sessions and play intimate gigs in tiny venues for their fans, they do it for EVERY album launch, they support local organisations, they played a benefit for the Star and Shadow cinema in Byker, they are sponsoring Newcastle Roller Girls and supporting a local micro brewery. For these reasons and a whole lot more I have a massive amount of time for this band, local lads, still mostly living locally (not running away to London at the first sign of success) and looking after their fans put them on the same footing as Frankie and the Heartstrings for Pop Recs Ltd – Local North East heroes.