The Maccabees took some time out from putting the finishing touches to their eagerly-awaited third album to play a sold-out gig at Exeter’s Phoenix club. The small venue was packed with fans clearly relishing the prospect of seeing their favourite band close up.
Instead of relying on their extensive back catalogue to warm up the crowd, the band bravely began with two new songs ‘Child’ and ‘Feel to follow’ before moving on to golden oldies like ‘Lego’, ‘First love’ and ‘One hand holding’.
There were a few sound issues with Orlando Weeks’ microphone (which were promptly rectified), but given that they have only just recently returned to playing live after an absence of twelve months the band sounded surprisingly tight.
Fan favourites ‘Precious Time’, ‘Can you give it’ and ‘Love You Better’ prompted some lively singalong moments from the Exeter crowd. After a couple of audience members requested ‘X-Ray’ the track was dedicated to them by guitarist Felix White and the crowd responded gratefully with some vigorous dancing.
Other newbies ‘Pelican’ and ‘Forever I’ve known’ were received attentively, and Weeks thanked the crowd for being patient and listening to the new material before leaving the stage to perhaps their most famous song ‘Love you better’. An ecstatic crowd brought them back again for an encore of ‘William Powers’ and another new song, the quiet and tender ‘Grew up at midnight’.
Whilst this was a warm-up show for the band ahead of their appearance at Bestival, for the fans it was both a reminder of what made them love The Maccabees in the first place and a look ahead to pastures new.