Although they are South London boys, playing to tonights sell out Concorde 2 crowd is something like a homecoming to ex Brighton students The Maccabees. The sun has been shining off the Brighton coastline all day and just as the evening begins to draw in we head off on the long beachside walk to the alcove that is Concorde 2. It's quiet outside; minus the obligatory tout shouts we only bump into one group of friends pleading for tickets, which gives a sense of secrecy. Behind those closed doors there is a special gathering, and only those with tickets seem to know about it.
The party kicked off early (very early) with a Derek Meins set before 7:30. Full of emotion and bile he alternated between songs and spoken word spitting out his lyrics with a convinction that at once charms and bites. Everything is said as though these are the last words he'll ever speak.
Next we have Peggy Sue and The Pirates, starting off a little too girlie with thumb piano and keyboard, it takes a couple of songs to really get into them but by 'Television' I'm hooked and heading off to the merchandise stall, partly to get my hands on the 'Tour EP,' partly to miss the next act.
So to Good Shoes, tonights 'special' support. Perhaps I should just gloss over them, I've never seen the appeal and it'd be a little unfair of me to criticise them yet again. But they do still have a long way to go if they are conquer to their 'yelp yelp, yup, yup, yelp, yelp' addiction and write a song that isn't so stop start. Of the songs tonight it's only the familiarity of the singles that makes any of it work and the new songs they play are nothing beyond the last album. Good Shoes, henceforth you shall be known as Bad Shoes. But one plus, there's probably no one else on this planet that could get a crowd of Brighton kids singing along to a song about Morden.
Thank you to The Maccabees for showing us how to really present new material, with a slightly bassier, heavier sound, helped along by the addition of Orlando's guitar and improved vocals, plus the notable inclusion of an accordian, they seem to be heading down an exciting new route. But they still keep enough of themselves not to alienate their existing fanbase; the songs are still as endearing and it's still easy to empathise with the clumsy lyricism. Good (Bad) Shoes take heed, change isn't a bad thing.
It's impossible not to fall head over heals for The Maccabees, and if there was any justice in the world they would be bigger, but we can for the moment take selfish comfort in the fact that gigs like this wouldn't happen so often if they were.
There is an absurd shyness to their live shows that keeps us interested. One highlight of the new songs played was 'No Fine Words', but it was the old ones that really shook up the crowd, 'Latchmere' and 'X-Ray' provoking the greatest reactions. And it was encore track 'First Love' that really reminded us why we all fell in love with The Maccabees in the first place. All bashful, honest lyrics and jerky pop melodies, it was the perfect finish to a perfect gig.