“You’ve all aged much better than me,” complimented Maximo Park’s singer Paul Smith from the stage when his band’s breakneck set proved not quite brisk enough to beat the show’s sharp finishing time and they had to play the final song with the house lights up. Which isn’t strictly true; Smith – whose stage show with Unfolding Theatre, Hold On Let Go, was this week announced for the Edinburgh Fringe at Summerhall – still looks considerably younger than his 40 years.
Maximo Park, Liquid Room, Edinburgh ****
The band from Newcastle upon Tyne, in fact, retain a vigour which is entirely at odds with the fact they’ll be celebrating their 20th year together in 2020, and that’s only partly connected to the sense of renewal occasioned by the fact this was their first show with new keyboard player Jemma Freese, with Lukas Wooller having played his final gig in January before decamping to Australia.
Many of the key hits the band wrote in their twenties retain not just a sense of eloquence and emotional resonance which has matured over time, but the feeling of urgent, excited vitality with which they were written.
The Coast is Changing sounds like an open road opening up, Our Velocity is a race along it, and Apply Some Pressure remains a jittery, coruscating slice of New Wave.
“I’ll dedicate that song to a very emotional woman named Theresa May,” offered Smith with a dose of sarcasm after the hammering The National Health, but their wider message was open-hearted. “This song is not about milkshakes and it’s the opposite of people who are trying to divide us,” he explained about the gorgeous, questioning What Equals Love. The show finished amid welcoming chants for Jemma and Smith’s promise that the band’s next album after 2017’s Risk to Exist will follow “when it’s good”; a show like this reminds us why that’s such an exciting prospect. - David Pollock