The Maccabees @ Oxford Town Hall – 21/10/11

The Maccabees have always been able to offer something a little bit different to what you’d normally expect for a British indie-rock band born out of the mid-noughties splash of tight-jeaned, top-buttoned, indie waifs following aimlessly in the shadows of Pete Doherty and The Libertines. Being able to actually write good songs instead of just good hooks has definitely been the band’s strongest weapon in their dazzling armoury. Tonight, the band once again proved their disparity from other British guitar types by snubbing the neon blue allure of the O2 Academy, instead opting to entertain scores of excitable teens within the majestic setting of the Oxford Town Hall.

The impressive Gothic interior of this stately 17th Century building should have provided the perfect scenery for the black-clad shoegazers 2:54, but something didn’t quite sit right. Kind of like Warpaint, but forgoing the breezy Californian cool for something a little more “rough and ready”, the band failed to fill the room with the sonic bluster they had so obviously intended.

With the stage cleared for the main event, it is clear that there are a lot of people out there who bloody love The Maccabees. I find that a useful gauge of how popular a band is achieved by estimating what number percentage of the audience turn up to the gig actually dressed as the artist in question. Tonight, the TST (Top Shop Twat) Rating hits the 85% mark. What a result! However, all condescension aside, it only goes to prove how popular The Maccabees really are; in fact, I bet there are a lot of people in the audience who regard them as their very favourite band. And why not? They write cracking songs, full of interesting switches in tempo and mood, brimming with the kind of lyrics those young’uns can identify with. When you think that shit-awful acts such as Klaxons, The View and The Wombats were all around doing a similar thing when The Maccabees rose to prominence in 2006/07, it’s a relief to see that these are the guys who survived and suitably progressed.

The band come out to manic shouting, cheering and female squealing (they are a good looking bunch a lads after all!) and launch into a short, but stormy set which chops and changes between edgy indie-pop and ambitious, full-on guitar noise-rock. I much prefer the dark, sinister songs such as ‘No Kind Words’ to their tweeny sing-a-longs such as ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ and, thankfully, the band spares us from the more radi-friendly hits, instead giving us gallons of noise and buckets of blustery energy. Of course, they provide the ubiquitous crowd pleasers such as ‘Love You Better’ and ‘First Love’, but they sound beefier than usual and there is also no denying that they are simply cracking pop tunes. Plus, the crowd seem to like it. The crowd seem to really like it! I mean really, really like it! There are blokes battered on the balcony getting dragged away for displaying over-exuberance at such great heights and even front man Orlando gives the reckless crowd-surfers a stern telling off for getting a little carried away, literally!

Given the strength of their enthusiastic fan base as well as the band’s propensity for writing great songs which display credibility far beyond their trendy buzzcuts and bulging biceps, you get the feeling that The Maccabees will stick around a while longer, which is no bad thing, especially seeing as The Cribs are due another release. I really wish they’d just fuck off already.