The Maccabees
@ Leeds Met

It’s a year since I saw the Maccabees – supporting at Leeds Uni and they’ve beefed up considerably, losing some subtlety and suppleness. Orlando is almost immobile compared to the ants in his pants leaping about of last time. This is made up for by the guitarists self-satisfied posturing and fluttering about. Fortunately Orlando still looks like an abashed Father Ted sidekick. He’s less mannered and I wonder if he was covering shyness before – there’s still a sense of it now – not that it does him any harm. They’ve gained a lot of fans though and there is a big section of bouncy sky-pointing people bearing inflatable guitars.

“First Love” has been coarsened by the need to do the rock thing in larger venues as a headliner – no getting away, they think, with the fey quirkiness now. I think they’re wrong, now is the time, now they have an audience. But maybe time and familiarity have worn down the edges too. From fey and cute, they have moved to beaty indie. People know the words to sing to but the rockist treatment will not win non-converts here, as the album would or, indeed, earlier performances. Fundamentally this is less a concert than a celebration of the album.

Orlando gives a humble speech about how surprised and pleased he is with the band’s success. A rare quiet moment finds the crowd singing and the grinning and annoying guitarist shares a lead line. Quietly hooded and discreet, the other guitarist is unflamboyantly ripping out better lines. “Time” strikes the first good balance of energy to music to lyric – thunderous but paced and clear and is the most involved I’ve felt in the evening. “Latchmere” gets the expected huge response and the encore is almost a second set, with its three songs. I’m not sure where The Maccabees are going. They seem to be heading for a standardisation rather than building on the beach head they’ve established. If they’re not careful, on the evidence of tonight, they’ll become just another indie guitar band.

Ross McGibbon