British band The Maccabees first shocked fans with their decision to call it a day after 14 years of gigs and massive indie hits over four critically acclaimed albums in the summer of last year. But this has been no Irish goodbye, as they have been taking their “precious time about it” with a special UK tour over the last 12 months, including an exceptional headline set at last year’s Latitude Festival. And now the British rock band are saying their final farewell to the stage as the group we know and love, in a final set of shows at North London’s Alexandra Palace, starting with last night.

It was all mutual love (“You all look beautiful!”) and endearing boyish charm (“It’s OK, let’s get the boos out the way.”) as the band gave a euphoric audience a no-holds-barred set spanning their extensive back catalogue of indie anthems, kicking off with the title track of their 2009 record Wall of Arms, Feel to Follow from 2012’s award-winning Given to the Wild and 2015’s chart-topping album Marks to Prove It song Kamakura. With lead singer Orlando Weeks’s unique voice finding emotive edges in each of their lyrics, brothers Hugo and Felix White sweating it out on noisy guitars and Sam Doyle smashing it on the drums, the cavernous Alexandra Palace had far more an all-inhibitions-loosened summer festival feel than a stuffy indoor gig.

Barely a lyric was missed by the dedicated hall on massive singalong tracks such as Love You Better, Precious Time, Can You Give It, and the lighthearted Latchmere. With a balance of loud and tender, fun loving and sentimentality we heard Spit it Out, Lego and X-Ray while the band gripped the crowd in edgy aggression with No Kind Words, brought nostalgia with Grew Up at Midnight, and characteristic optimism in Something Like Happiness.

And they didn’t stop there, coming back with Marks to Prove It, aptly named original breakout hit First Love, the dialled-down melancholic lullaby Toothpaste Kisses, ramping back up to a huge glitter-dusted finale of Pelican, whose lyrics took on new bittersweet poignancy for the group’s departing song: “And we go back to where we came from/ Like those before and those to come.”

A belter of an emotionally wrought gig, seeing The Maccabees perform for one of the last times in their native London put something electric in the air. Hearing such towering tracks blast out one after another over the hyped-up interior of the Palace was a staunch reminder of the consistency with which this band could produce classic indie just perfect for the big stage. And called into question why they are hanging up their guitars…“Stay with me, I’ll stay with you”.

★★★★★

By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 30th June 2017.
Photos: Nick Bennett

For further information and future events visit the The Maccabees website here.

Watch the video for Pelican here:

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