Maximo Park - Manchester Dry Bar - 25.2.05

Opening number "Signal & Signs" is sung back by the packed crowd, which considering it is only available via a web download, indicates the increasing attention being directly toward the band and all things with a north easterly tint e.g. Futureheads etc

It's all amicably delivered; a genial banter is generated with the audience at the front, with references to a previous life as a geography teacher being irreverently thrown at the band

Front man Paul Smith is an all action figure, pogoing within the limited confirms of the stage, throwing the shapes and delivering the lyrics, showing that the years of gigging since they appeared at the In The City event here in 2003 have been put to good use by the band.

Smith's actions contrast nicely with the rock solid stance of bass player Archis Tiku, a stance that a colleague believes resembles "Playing like he's Shandy Bass in a pub band".  I'm sure that means something in Geordie speak

Yet nobody really dances or moves that much; maybe its because it's so packed that everyone is craning their necks to catch a view of the band on the small stage.

Acoustics of the venue mean that if you can't get to the front, then a muffled vaguely pleasing noise permeates the venue and perhaps this split view summarises the atmosphere.  If you like the band and are prepared to get down to the front and pay attention, then you will probably enjoy the unchallenging guitars & keyboards based pop.  Alternatively, it may waft over the heads of those at the back, a bit of background music that will smooth the conversation flow without stopping it

Words & Photo: Ged Camera

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