The Maccabees at the Guildhall (16/03/2012)

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After the highly anticipated release of their third album Given to the Wild, fans of The Maccabees, including myself, simply couldn’t wait for them to take it on tour. Before the show, guitarist Felix White said how lovely it is to play in a venue as beautiful as The Guildhall and said how great it is to be playing in Southampton again. They definitely didn’t disappoint.

First up were the eccentric newcomers La Shark; their image being as eclectic as their sound. I have to admit seeing them was quite the experience. An extremely heavy baseline accompanied with Samuel Geronimo Deschamps Bowie-esque poppy vocals led to a confusion to the senses, but in a good way. There was something enchanting about this mixture. Sam Deschamps put so much heart into his performance and despite the obvious heckles from 15 year old boys at their first gig, he handled the crowd very well. He told us to give these boys some love while flipping them the middle finger. They played songs such as their most well known song ‘Magazine Cover’. The simple but interesting sound of ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ got the crowddancing and my personal favourite of the set ‘Mr Modern Man’ was one to listen to. The highlight of their set had to be frontman Sam performing two backflips in front of the stage and doing multiple handstands on stage as well as crowd surfing towards the end of the set; a security guard’s worst nightmare to say the least. Despite some negativity from the crowd you had to admire La Shark for their energy and stage presence. I certainly won’t be forgetting that performance for a long time, definitely ones to watch.

The Maccabees opened their 16 song set with the famously mystical tones of the ‘Given to the Wild Intro’ leading straight into ‘Child’, just as it does on the new album. The guitar intro was enough to send the crowd into a frenzy and as soon as Sam Doyle’s drums kicked in a mosh pit began to form nicely just behind me. They followed this with ‘Feel to Follow’ (excuse the pun), another new song, which was received by the crowd with warmth. Most of the crowd, I assume, were made up of newly formed fans created by the recent mainstream radio success following Given to the Wild‘s release. Judging by the age of the majority of people that surrounded me, I think this is likely to be the case.

They went on the play two classics, ‘Wall of Arms’ and ‘No Kind Words’ both of which were sang back to the band by everyone in the room. Orlando Week’s seamless vocals and’s energy on guitar meant all eyes were drawn to them while the other members merged nicely into the backdrop. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by frontman/vocalist/guitarist Orlando’s attitude on stage. Not an ounce of arrogance from him; indeed it was more of the opposite. He was incredibly humble and even appeared vulnerable at times. Especially when he sincerely thanked the crowd in an almost childlike manner. This set him apart from the usual cockiness fueled ‘frontman’ stereotype we are so used to seeing in music today.

A surprising addition to the set was ‘Glimmer’, introduced by Orlando politely asking the crowd if it was alright to play a new song. They played it beautifully, I’d never seen it as a stand out song on the new album until hearing it live. Following this was ‘Went Away’ and one of my favourite songs from their second album Wall of Arms, ‘William Powers’, the whole crowd faithfully chanting “Now now now now now” along with the band as if their life depended on it. Next they played ‘X-Ray’ from their first album Colour It In and then played two of they’re most well known songs, ‘First Love’ and ‘Can You Give It’. This caused a bomb to explode among the sweaty teens moshing next to me, they went harder on the chorus of these songs than ever before.

The initial set was finished with their most recent single ‘Pelican’, which sounded awesome live. After this the shouts for an encore erupted instantaneously. They came back on stage and began the encore with ‘Lego’ to my surprise. Clearly a crowd favourite as everyone screamed ‘hallelujah!’ back at Orlando in the opening lines. ‘Precious Time’ followed and finally, just as Given to the Wild concludes, the brilliantly enchanting ‘Grew Up At Midnight’ which showcased Orlando’s vocal talent incredibly well. Overall, having not seen the band live before, all of my expectations were met and more. The performance was technically faultless, it is clear to see that this is a band that are no strangers to touring. I would highly recommend seeing The Maccabees live if you ever get the opportunity. An amazing night of music at The Guildhall.

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I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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