Three years ago, a group of friends and I decided to take a road trip up to Portland, Maine to see the Mumford & Sons curated festival, Gentlemen of the Road. Lucky for me, The Maccabees were a part of that festival, and I have been a fan since. It’s been a long couple of years waiting for the boys to get back to NYC, but they proved to be worth the wait, playing a blistering set at (le) poisson rouge last night, accompanied by opening act, Luke Rathborne.
Luke didn’t have his backing band with him, which I think had him a bit unsettled as he cracked jokes and made comments throughout the night, even going so far as to mention, “not sure why they asked me to play this gig.” Luke didn’t have much to fear as the crowd warmed to his off-kilter humor quickly, and took in his indie tunes gleefully. His stand-in drummer, via his iPhone, did a great job at adding a bit more layers to his sparse instrumentation and got the crowd swaying along before his set was over.
The air in the room was electric with anticipation when The Maccabees took the stage and when the opening notes of “Wall of Arms” rang out, all hell broke loose. The crowd must have been waiting to see the boys just as long as I have because the frenzy that worked over that room was indescribable. Ripping through their songs “Feel To Follow, “Love You Better,” “Latchmere,” and “Precious Time,” the pace they set was relentless. On the far left of the stage, Felix White did an exceptional job riling up the crowd with his energy and heartbreaking smile. Orlando Weeks’ voice was just as pristine as when I first heard it all those years ago, nailing high notes and soaring choruses with ease. Guitarist Hugo White, who I happened to be nestled directly in front of, played with such style and grace, he made everything look easy and effortless. Bassist Rupert Jarvis added a steady backbone to the music and drummer Sam Doyle kept the show moving at a frantic pace, which no one seemed to mind. Keyboardist Will White was absent, but they managed to snag a young lady named Rebekah Raa, who is also quite a talented musician in her own right. The band played a handful of new songs, most of which we all devoured vigorously, and easing into “Marks To Prove It” off their forthcoming record of the same name, the crowd sang along with every word, and rocked the club from the floor to the rafters, myself included.
We were allowed a short rest and a breath of air when Orlando sang the first lyrics to “Grew Up At Midnight,” which also happens to be one of my favorite songs and much slower in pace, at least to start. Felix continued his antics, standing at the edge of the stage, and coming over to the other side of the stage numerous times to engage with fans and jam with his brother. Exiting and returning for a much-needed 3-song encore, the energy in the room was still at top notch. The show felt like it flew by, and when the last song “Pelican” started up, The Maccabees were primed to make sure it ended with the biggest bang possible.
While they may not get to visit the states as much as they might like, The Maccabees prove time and time again that they are a band with considerable musical chops and onstage charisma that make for legendary shows you tell everyone about for years to come.
Article: Lesley Keller