Photo Credit: Jack Delve
Instead of touring to promote an album, Maximo Park’s Singular Tour was a celebration of the main singles from all of their albums, both new and old. This includes their newest single, Great Art, which was released in March of this year in conjunction with the announcement of the extensive UK tour. Prior to embarking on the tour, the band asked their audience on various social media platforms which singles they would like to hear on the setlist in order to craft the perfect setlist for every fan.
Amsterdam-based indie quartet, Pip Blom, ran onto the stage with as much energy as they could and got straight into their set, introducing their smooth and dream-like sound to the Bristol audience. The lead singer, Pip Blom sang powerfully to the concert-goers with her band playing their instruments in a raw yet simple tone, however it felt to us that Blom seemed disconnected from the rest of the band as she was placed as far away from them on the stage as she could get. Although this didn’t take away from the band’s overall indie-pop aesthetic, the lead guitarist, bassist and drummer looked happy to jam together on their side of the stage whilst Blom captivated the audience. We thought that Pip Blom’s set was a great introduction to Maximo Park, who they complemented well, but many of the songs they played sounded too simulator blended into one another. This could, however, be a symptom of not having a large break between each of the tracks. 6/10
Jumping and leaping onto the stage at the O2 academy in Bristol, Maximo Park opened up with All Of Me, a single from their 2021 album Nature Always Wins. The loud mix of synth keyboards and booming drums raised the energy of the crowd straight away. However, they oddly moved from its up-beat tunes to slower and more ambient songs which calmed the room down considerably. We thought that it was almost too soon to slow the pace down after such an energetic opening. They soon brought the tempo back up with Baby, Sleep which surprised us as the band had infused the track with more rock and heavy drum undertones from Tom English, compared with the single which had much more of an indie-rock vibe to it.
Frontman Paul Smith took a subtle dig at the British Government before introducing The National Health from the 2012 album of the same name, which he admitted had become much more relevant than when it was released. Songs like ‘Karaoke Plays’ seem to have evolved to heavier and more distorted versions of themselves which could be attributed to the band playing them at concerts across the world for many years. They soon jumped into the single that inspired the tour itself; Great Art. Although only being released just six months ago, it has shifted into almost a fusion of synth and punk rock which was unexpected for the alternative rock sound that we are used to with the band. Regardless of this change (whether or not it was intentional) was greatly welcomed by the Bristol crowd.
Smith utilised a heckle from the audience into energy to “fuel up” Our Velocity. This was the first track to make people bounce in the auditorium which was only enhanced by the amped-up electronica intro and the Duncan Lloyds’ heavier guitar in the choruses which led into the next single What Equals Love?. Throughout the gig, Smith had various humorous quips lined up about different songs about songs getting to number one in obscure countries’ charts as well as songs that “Should have got to at least number 73”, many of which resulted in belly-laughing from amongst the packed-out audience.
Two of the final tracks, Books from Boxes and Apply Some Pressure easily benefitted from Smith’s experienced vocals as he ended the set by beautifully harmonising with the higher notes in the melody of both songs. After releasing the latter in 2005, the band have had a generous amount of time to experiment with, and develop the track that we have been hearing on the radio for years and for us, the band did not disappoint. The energy of this band that has been so consistent for almost twenty years brought a joy that will stick with us for a long time to come. 9/10
Review and Photos by: Jack Delve