Maximo Park / Mystery Jets  - Manchester Academy 1 - 4.2.06

You'd think it would be a daunting task for Mystery Jets, opening for a crowd predominantly here for Arctic Monkeys. The second they hit the stage any backstage nerves are quashed as the five piece band begin with an almost instrumental song full of prog rock and psychedelic tendencies. Three members of the Jets are on vocal duties with the father and son dynamic a unique selling point with the two video screens on either side of the stage superbly capturing the striking image of the band. New single "The Boy Ran Away" is poppier and more radio friendly than the rest of their material with the bass player resembling a lost member of Franz Ferdinand with kinetic moves and elaborate dandyish neckerchief. "Diamonds In the Dark" is guitar heavy with a huge soaring chorus, but generally Mystery Jets are excellent musicians with a natural presence but ultimately have too many ideas and not enough songs.

Without wishing to be buck the trend of Monkey loving (heaven forbid), the best band on this tour has got to be Newcastle's favourite's Maximo Park. Ever since I witnessed this canny bunch of lads play provincial Preston last April, i've always had a soft sport for these lads and their album "A Certain Trigger" hardly left the player, as anyone who owns it will testify.

After the extremely melodramatic intro music, Maximo Park don't so much stroll on stage as bound on stage with bountiful energy and enthusiasm firing on all cylinders. "Graffiti" is catchier than the whole Kaiser Chiefs album with Paul Smith throwing shapes and jumping around like a younger more limber Jarvis Cocker. As a band Maximo Park have a poppy edge, but with sometime heavy guitar riffs like on new song "A Fortnight Away". During a lament of not wanting your lover to leave they play "I Want You To Stay" with the strobes adding to the high drama.

The fans love it and Paul Smith is an eccentric performer, endearing and charming. With a setlist that includes "Kiss You Better" and "Apply Some Pressure", Maximo Park play a consistently good set bereft of any ropy old songs. Arctic Monkeys may be the band of the moment, but Maximo Park have a rosier future ahead of them.

Nicholas Paul Godkin
Photos: Karen McBride

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