It’s been 14 years since The Maccabees formed and they are accompanying their departure with a farewell tour, which ends in three nights at Alexandra Palace. I join them at their final Manchester show, where the atmosphere is rife with emotion. 14 years and four amazing albums have culminated in a richly diverse and loyal fan-base who have come out in full strength to see the band. From the jangly indie pop of their youth to the darker, more mature album Marks to Prove It, the band have grown to heights that have sustained their popularity over the years.
The support is the equally accomplished Mystery Jets; the nostalgia of the 00’s is heavy in the air as the two bands gained success at a similar time. The love and comradery between the bands is clear as lead singer Blaine Harrison reminisces about their first gig together in Manchester’s (now closed) Jabez Clegg. It’s an endearing display of the journey they have come on together and their mutual respect. Their set opens with the euphoric Telomere, from their latest album, a galactically large song which warms up the crowd. They follow with early hits Young Love and Flash a Hungry Smile to the delight of the audience who are transported back to their youth. Someone Purer rounds off their set, a cry for ‘rock and roll’ as a form of salvation.
The Maccabees come to the stage with a lighting panel over the stage creating an intense and intimate feel for such a large venue. The pounding Wall of Arms welcomes the band on stage for the start of their extensive set; the crowd are immediately in frenzy to the bassline of the song. They race through an eclectic range of songs from the urgent classic Precious Time to the sinister Kamakura in faultless accuracy and unrelenting energy. With their experience behind them, The Maccabees are musically seamless with lead singer Orlando Weeks’ hand gestures enrapturing the crowd. Near the end of the show, they lower the overhead panel and dedicate Something Like Happiness to Mystery Jets and set off confetti canons in celebration, before leaving for the encore. Four of their most popular songs close the personal gig, the crowd dance for the last time to Marks to Prove It and Pelican and get on shoulders for First Love and Toothpaste Kisses. The setlist displayed the fantastic range The Maccabees have, with classics and fresher songs coming together to highlight their journey and all representations of the band.
As with any farewell show, emotions are running high and there’s a bittersweet sense of pride and sadness. At one point, Felix allows the crowd to boo at their decision to part, but insists on the show continuing in happiness. The show ends with a screen with the words ‘Thank You!’, and the band revel in unrelenting cheers for a while before leaving with an assurance that their heartfelt legacy will prevail.
Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana