Rhian Daly reports on The Maccabees – The Junction, Cambridge, 29 April 2007

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
Think of the best night out you've ever had and then double it. Quadruple it and it still doesn't come anywhere near how fantastic tonight's entertainment is. Kicking the night off is the slowly rising star of Fear of Flying, all angular guitar riffs and songs about fairgrounds. Enthusiastic dancing ensues in the crowd and keeps going right through the evening, stepping up a gear when the next big thing takes the stage.

Jack Penate is probably the most talked about solo artist of 2007 thus far, and tonight he shows us why. Starting with an a cappella ditty about death, which confuses the crowd somewhat, he then launches straight into his current single Spit at Stars. Trademark crazy dancing and a top quality vocal performance are both on display tonight, making his set most enjoyable as he rattles through his small catalogue of tunes including Learning Lines, Torn On The Platform and debut single Second, Minute or Hour.

Time for a breather then as Jack leaves the stage; the first two sets having made the legs ache a bit already. Just when you think you've recovered, on walk the Maccabees to ruin your attempts at recuperation. Not that anyone's complaining, mind.

Starting the performance with Colour It In, a b-side from their breakthrough single First Love, it's clear the Maccabees mean business tonight. Racing through a shortened version of this track, they then tear into Latchmere, their second single and a firm live favourite. Looking stunned at the extent of the crowd's reaction, they pause momentarily before dipping into their forthcoming album and pulling out a flawless rendition of All In Your Rows. The energy and fast paced nature of the show keeps going, as the band rattles through a set list of album tracks, singles and b-sides, all of which are of the same high quality. Recent single About Your Dress receives a rapturous response from the crowd, as singer Orlando Weeks and guitarist Felix White even do a spot of mic sharing, before Orlando plants a kiss on his band mate's cheek. That sums up the night in one action - the love and adoration in this room is incredible and not just for the band from the fans. It's clear from the expressions on their faces and the effort and energy put into the performance that the band is just as much in love with the audience and their colleagues.

Noticing the frantic and continuous jostling in front of them, the Maccabees kindly provide us with two songs to help us catch our collective breath. First the slower O.A.V.I.P showcases Orlando's extraordinary voice before they strip things right back and introduce us to album closer Toothpaste Kisses, an acoustic beauty, which gets the crowds' arms swaying along to its tender suggestions.

But we can't stay calm for long as soon it's back to breakneck speed with Precious Time, the latest release, which is sure to set the charts alight. Old song Bicycle Rush follows, succeeded by Mary and X-Ray, the first ever single from The Maccabees. The end of the main set is nigh as they launch into former b-side, now album track and soon to be single, Lego, highlighting just how fabulous the Maccabees song writing is. After putting in the best performance this fair reviewer has seen of this song, they leave the stage for a brief moment, before running back on to delight us all for a few songs longer.

The encore picks up where they left off, with another old tune, this time by the name of Sore Throat. Typical of the Maccabees sound with it's intertwining guitar riffs and rumbling bass, it certainly gets the audience moving again, as does the next tune Diamond Solitaire. As brief as it is, it's still one of the highlights of the set and proves once more the ability of this group of South London superstars in waiting. Last, but by no means least, is First Love, provoking the loudest sing along of the night. It ends too soon, taking the Maccabees away from us for real this time, but cements in our minds exactly why they're a must see band, and one of the best in Britain, if not the world, right now.

Writer/photographer: Rhian Daly