Following the release of Maximo Park's sixth studio album, 'Risk To Exist', almost a month ago, and just ahead of a heavy schedule of festival dates, the band ushered in a new season of thrills and spills at Dreamland Pleasure Park in Margate. In the shadow of the Ferris wheel, beside the rattle of the 'Speedway' in The Hall By The Sea the boys from the North East came down to delight the people of the South-East.
The opening weekend of the heritage theme park had been largely blessed with glorious sunshine all day with beach goers and amusement lovers treated to one of the hottest days of the year. By the time Maximo Park had winged their way down south via London St Pancras and the high speed train link the temperatures were only just beginning to subside as the blue skies gave way to a twilight glow.
After the band played out a briefly extended instrumental intro charismatic lead singer Paul Smith also took to the stage to the excitement of the gathered crowd as they tore into the first track off of their latest album, 'What Did We Do To You To Deserve This?' With more moves than a Russian Grand Master Smith owned the stage from beginning to end as Maximo Park quickly set about a potent take on the title track, 'Risk To Exist'. The vocal was superbly set above the dynamics of the tightly bound band as the machine-gun drumming drilled through a blistering rendition of one the album highlights.
"Hello Margate-By-Sea, we like being by the sea, we wrote a song about it, twelve years later we thought we'd play it for you" Smith explained as Maximo Park plucked a track from their, Mercury nominated, first album 'A Certain Trigger'. "We look out upon the sea" rang out the aptly chosen lyric as the band played out, 'The Coast Is Always Changing', a stones throw from the golden sands of Margate's beaches. Fan favourite, 'Books From Boxes' followed by a captivating 'Leave This Island' continued the reflective mood before Maximo Park returned to new material from 'Risk To Exist'.
'I'll Be Around' resounded around The Hall By The Sea with its funkier bass line under scoring another of the new albums politically charged tracks before the band returned to 2005 with a stirring, pumped up, take on 'Graffiti'. 'Quicken The Heart' track 'Questing Not Coasting' acted deftly to set up "a song about, well it's about what you want it to be, it's a pop song. Let's say it's perturbed, if your perturbed it could be about you" Paul explained as Maximo Park launched into 'Work And Then Wait', a song about privilege and principle. The live version was awesome, better by a country mile than the album take and possibly the biggest surprise of the night.
A song inspired by an Italian neo-realist film from 1960 (As you do), 'Hero', saw the band in their more funkier frame before the evening well and truly kicked in. With a venom and potency as yet unleashed Maximo Park gave up a super-charged, electric and hyper-energised performance of 'Our Velocity' to an ecstatic, very appreciative, crowd. A song about malady, 'National Health', upheld the ramped up tempo with Paul's impassioned performance clear for all to see. Duncan Lloyd's "distinct guitar", played through the night superbly, saw another return to the band's beginnings with a rousing and resonating 'Going Missing'.
The evening was drawing to its close but not before Paul asked his captivated audience, "Are you ready to dance?" "I have a question for you, 'What Equals Love'?" The lighter, poppier side of the new material preceded the more raucous past in another highlight of the night, 'Girls Who Play Guitars'. After a quick chat with drummer Tom English "Just tell them, just tell them" Paul said, "Just pretend this is the last track". Not wishing to enter into the "charade" of the encore the band just played all the songs they had left.
'By The Monument', an incendiary and frenetic, 'Apply Some Pressure', and finally recent, refusal single, 'Get High (No, I Don't) closed out the set. The "edgy and groovy...a little bit B-52's" track was a fitting finale to the night. The thumping bass line and tight percussive drive were a bubbling platform on which Paul Smith shone out, summoning up his final bursts of energy in a vigorous and thrilling end to a great gig.
Maximo Park in Margate's Dreamland was a heady mix that captivated and connected with the audience and was an opening night that the pleasure park, the band, and the fans will remember for a long time to come.
Official Site -