Blackthorn Festival

Published on July 31st, 2016 | by Amy Barraclough


Maxïmo Park @ Blackthorn Music Festival 2016

I met Nigel, from Sonic Bandwagon, last year at Blackthorn Festival, and it’s fast becoming an annual event to meet up in a field and talk shit about bands and our latest music finds. When he asked me to write a review of Maximo Park’s headline set at this year’s festival, one line from their second single ‘Apply Some Pressure’, came straight into mind.

“What’s my view? Well, how am I supposed to know? Write a review. Well, how objective can I be?”

If I’m honest, the North-East based five-piece weren’t really on my radar until this time last year. I met my boyfriend at this very festival, in this very field, exactly one year ago and still remember us discussing our favourite bands, his being Maximo Park. Since then, I have listened to all their albums but haven’t found the time to go and see them live, until now.

Blackthorn Festival 2016 - Maximo Park 1The crowd wasn’t quite at fever pitch as the band came on stage, but that didn’t affect charismatic frontman, Paul Smith. As the first guitar riff rung out, die-hard fans started to cheer as they opened with first album favourite, ‘The Coast Is Always Changing’. It was refreshing to see a band not just mindlessly plugging their latest album, but giving their long-standing fans something to cheer about. The set fast-forwarded almost ten years to ‘Give, Get, Take’, the first track from their latest album, which started to get some newer Maximo fans piling into the barn. ‘Graffiti’, ‘My Bloody Mind’ and ‘Leave This Island’ all continued to get the crowd bouncing, which spurred the dynamic frontman on even more. The lively beat of ‘Hips and Lips’ got the crowd dancing, as Paul Smith’s mesmerising charisma shone through with his iconic high kicks and exaggerated hip movements in full flow.

The set just didn’t let up. Heady tracks from all five studio albums followed, whilst we were also treated to a rendition of their newest, simple but anthemic tune, ‘Risk To Exist’. I didn’t think the set could pick up any more pace, but then the electronic sound of the keyboard kicked in for the 2007 hit, ‘Our Velocity’. The crowd erupted, and it seemed as though the memorable last line of the first verse was chanted from all directions, and then I’ll tell you some more about ME”. The words seemed to characterize this captivating frontman perfectly as he danced and jerked around the stage.

Blackthorn Festival 2016 - Maximo Park 2The onslaught continued with the poetic lyrics of ‘Books From Boxes’ and ‘Midnight On The Hill’ ringing through the barn. Smith addressed the crowd and announced the last song, ‘Apply Some Pressure’, and the familiar opening guitar riff was met with a roar. The crowd was desperate for more from this enthralling band, and as they left the stage, we were demanding “ONE MORE SONG”. Thankfully the energetic quintet still had more to give and, suddenly, the guitar kicked in with the simple, but so recognisable, intro to ‘Girls Who Play Guitar’. As the first line echoed through, it couldn’t have been more perfect for us…

“You’ve been. With me. A year. To the day. 365 days. Watching me decay.”

It was such a special moment, at this very special festival.

Pictures by Nidge Sanders Trust A Fox Photography

Please ask the photographers permission before use on any of the photos.

Click for Blackthorn’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday reviews.

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About the Author

Amy is a fan of new music and loves the buzz that you can get from finding an obscure, undiscovered band through hours of surfing Spotify. She has a particular love for the new indie and alternative rock scene in Manchester and can be found frequenting back-room gigs at the pubs and clubs of Northern Quarter.

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