Hours before the first support act were due to be on stage, the Manchester Academy suffered a serious power failure, putting the sold-out show in jeopardy. Not helping the matter was that an electrical engineer turned up with only two hours to go. As the planned door time came and passed, tension among the fans was palpable – would this go ahead or not?
The problem eventually resolved with a hired-in generator, Stricken City opened 45 minutes later than planned. Fronted by keyboardist and vocalist Rebekah Raa, they play with a tone which is hopeful, but overall hopeless. The songs are obviously deeply meaningful to the singer, and if you’re a fan of people like Imogen Heap, it may be worth checking these out too.
It’s hard to sum up what Grammatics songs sound like. You’ll notice tinges of Something Corporate, and others could be straight off some Chillout album constantly being advertised on television. Occurring in every song though, and certainly in their performance, is an exceptionally strong force. It’s almost as if Mother Nature herself crafted these tracks, and use Grammatics to convey her feelings and thoughts. It’s really weird, and I never thought I’d say something like that, but it’s true. The set was only six songs long, but it was a good way to set the stage for the headline.
Maxïmo Park delivered the ultimate irony of the night, with Paul Smith alone delivering more than enough to energy to power the Academy and all the houses in Manchester for a month. For the first three songs, ‘Graffitti’, ‘Wraithlike’ and ‘A Cloud Of Mystery’, the band were probably off the ground more than on it, and this hyped up the crowd enough for a first crowdsurfer. The performance was relentless, and only in their fifth song, ‘Urge’, did the tempo temporarily slow.
For a mammoth 16 songs Maxïmo Park dominated the pulsing bank holiday crowd. Departing for a short, the band are beckoned back on stage for an encore, finishing off with ‘Questing Not Coasting’, and ‘Apply Some Pressure’.
This is now a very mature band moving in an excellent direction, showing just how far they have come since A Certain Trigger. This is the 25th date on their European tour, so the devastation caused by Paul Smith in Frankfurt on their opening show must have been incredible.