Just a week before the release of the fourth studio album ‘The National Health; Maximo Park hit the road for three intimate dates across the country, playing the 600 capacity Glee Club in Birmingham.
Opening proceedings were the best emerging band Clock Opera. The electro-indie four-piece played an array of dance songs which warmed up the ever growing crowd. The bands most popular tune to date and the standout from the show ‘Lesson No. 7’ wowed the audience. Sure, a band with Clock Opera’s following could easily fill the Glee Club on their own accord, but, being offered an extended support slot because “Maximo Park are great guys” according to their singer; it was a perfect way to start the evening.
Maximo Park were clearly out to test-drive the new album, playing no less than nine new tunes from the twenty-one song long set list. Kicking off with title track ‘The National Health’ and latest single ‘Hips and Lips’ the audience were already beginning to sing-back the choruses. Exuberant frontman Paul Smith, was on fine form throughout; narrowly avoiding the low ceiling with his trademark scissor-kicks, and constantly leaning into the crowd.
Playing near enough the entirety of an album that wasn’t release could’ve been a mood-killer; however, it was mixed in very well with the classic hits from the debut and second album, most noticeably the anthems ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ and ‘Going Missing’. From the new material, it was ‘This Is What Becomes of the Broken Hearted’ and ‘Take Me Home’ which stood out; but, it wasn’t obvious to see which song from the record would make an impact, unlike the previous albums.An airing for the weather related ‘Questing, Not Coasting’ as rain continued to lash around “the concrete urban sprawl” of Birmingham, as described by Paul Smith was also a positive; as was the debut album, high-energy track ‘Limassol'; the first song to be sung back by the audience louder than band themselves.
Closing the show with ‘Apply Some Pressure’ was a clincher for fans to leave the Glee Club happy. Listening to the new material a week before release was worthwhile, as was seeing such an established band in such an intimate venue. With a back-catalogue so great; they were always going to leave a greater impression than the new material debuted. But besides ‘Hips and Lips’, I’m not going to hold too much faith that come album number five, tracks from ‘The National Health‘ are going to make an impact on set-lists.