Review: The Maccabees Charm The Metro

The past week has seen Sydney inundated with not just rain, but a torrent of enticing Falls Festival sideshows. Among these, at The Metro on Monday night, was The Maccabees, for whom the past year has been a tremendous success. Principally, 2015 saw the release of their fourth album Marks to Prove It, their most acclaimed to date and further evidence of the South London band’s quality and versatility.

The Maccabees are a band I’ve admired for a long time, but had not seen live before Monday night. It’s a real testament to their passion and guile that, amid a glut of sideshows from renowned live acts such as Foals and Bloc Party, they delivered a performance that will not easily be forgotten. Indeed, I write this after seeing Foals – perhaps my favourite band – unleash a set brimming with fury, style and tenderness upon Hordern Pavilion. And yet The Maccabees’ offering remains lodged in my mind for its own marvellous qualities.

With broad smiles across their faces, they strode on stage and kicked off with the blistering Marks to Prove It. Alright, boys; we’ve definitely started. It’s also worth noting that frontman Orlando Weeks was unable to play guitar due to a recently sustained thumb injury. This meant that three guitars became two, with brothers Felix and Hugo White skilfully filling the gaps. Weeks himself is as charming as they come, smiling and uttering thanks after each song. The Metro wasn’t exactly packed, but the healthy crowd were loud and unwavering in their support of the band, particularly when it came to older songs like the infectious Precious Time and the helter-skelter X-Ray. Recent singles Something Like Happiness and Spit It Out were immaculate in their performance, with Weeks’ vocals atoning for any forced adjustments to guitar parts.

Perhaps The Maccabees’ greatest asset is their mastery of tempo. They have an inimitable knack for working spectacular crescendos into songs at whim – Feel to Follow and WW1 Portraits are examples. Live, this is amplified; their equally impressive displays of patient restraint and shameless gusto make for songs crafted with poignancy and dynamism. Rounding out the set was an encore of the lullaby-like Toothpaste Kisses and the grand sing-a-long that is Pelican – a perfect end to a performance remarkably unencumbered by the band’s obvious six-string setback. Their tenacity and humour in this regard simply made The Maccabees all the more endearing.