THE GALLERY: Maxïmo Park @ O2 Institute 05.05.17




Words & pics by Michelle Martin

I do love a good cup of tea. Fruity, spicy or a simple Earl Grey. I enjoy tea like I enjoy music, always open to trying new things.

Admittedly, I know little about Maximo Park. From releasing the debut LP twelve years ago on Warp Records, the Mercury nominated A Certain Trigger, to their latest Risk to Exist LP, the band appeared to have slipped through my music collection. And now I know the reason. As I stand in a sold out main arena at the O2 Institute, with fans and adulation all around me, the most interesting thing in the room is the man in the hat, centre stage. Him, and one audience member who was dancing like a T-Rex.

But as much as I enjoyed Paul Smith’s energetic performance, even his stage presence couldn’t make up for the music. Opening strong with ‘What Did We Do to Deserve This?’ – the second single from Risk to Exist, things fell flat pretty quickly for me after that.

Covering a deluge of work from their twelve year portfolio there were the inevitable ebbs and flows, with ‘Our Velocity’ and ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ – the opening two tracks from the Our Earthly Pleasures sophomore LP – bringing some ear catching open guitars and much stronger vocals to the stage, more so than I found in their recent work. The rest of the set, which I was free to enjoy sans camera after track No#3, felt forgettable. Perhaps I came to this party too late.

But clearly the O2 Institute audience were having a fantastic time, all dancing and singing along, so I guess the opinion of one doesn’t really matter. Maybe that was why I was distracted by a man in the audience attempting to recreate a scene from Jurassic Park – Maxïmo Park’s blend of anarchic stage strutting and political laced indie rock was definitely his flavor. Although I think I’ll pass on this cup of tea next time around.

Check out a selection of Michelle’s shots from Maxïmo Park from the O2 Institute gig in THE GALLERY below. To see the Full Flickr of Pics, click here or on the relevant links.

Maxïmo Park @ O2 Institute 05.05.17 / Michelle Martin – Birmingham Review

Risk to Exist by Maxïmo Park is out on general release from 21st April, via Cooking Vinyl. For more on Maxïmo Park, visit 

For more from the O2 Institute, including full venue details and online ticket sales, visit 

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs and Tours, visit

BPREVIEW: Maxïmo Park @ O2 Institute 05.05.17

Words by Ed King / Pics by Ed Taylor

On Friday 5th May, Maxïmo Park will be playing at the 02 Institute. Doors open from 7pm, with tickets priced at £20.50 + booking fee – as presented by SJM Concerts. Minimum age for entry is 14.

N.B. At the time of writing this gig has been ‘Sold Out’, so check with reputable ticket providers for spares and returns. For direct gig info, click here.

Maxïmo Park will be playing further UK dates in Newcastle (6th May), Aberdeen (8th May), Glasgow (9th May), Sheffield (10th May), London (12th May), Bexhill-on-Sea (13th May), Cambridge (15th May), Cardiff (16th May), Falmouth (17th May), Manchester (19th May), Margate (27th May). For direct tour details, including online ticket sales, click here.

Maxïmo Park will be back in Birmingham on Saturday 16th September – co-headling the main stage at the Beyond the Tracks festival on Eastside Park, Birmingham City Centre. For direct festival info, click here.

Schlepping up, down and around the UK, Maxïmo Park are on the headline trial with their new album, Risk to Exist – released on 24th April through Cooking Vinyl. To read the Birmingham Review of Risk to Exist, from Damien Russell, click here.

Named after a park dedicated to the Cuban Generalisimo Máximo Gómez – a key military figure in Cuba’s war of independence – Maxïmo Park have never been too far away from the murky world of socio-political-meets-pop-rock.

And whilst the-man-in-the-hat, Paul Smith (not that kind of hat, not that Paul Smith), was once quoted as saying ‘I think it’s people who change the world but music can influence people’Maxïmo Park have arguably used their sixteen years of creative endevours to do just that. Plus they’ve made their own beer. So, on the road during the UK’s local elections and campaign trails for the general… that’s going to be some green room to tidy.

But with a front man you’d rip your granny’s teeth out to get, Maxïmo Park also have a reputation for pretty electrifying stage shows, no matter what your political leanings. Expect strutting, jumping, the occasional strobe, and the band’s name (sometimes literally) up in lights somewhere. And with a new album to hock at the merch stand I wouldn’t expect too many pulled punches, even with two fingers extended in the face of totalitarian capitalism.

Birmingham Review last saw Maxïmo Park, again at the 02 Institute, in December 2015 – click here to read Helen Knott’s Birmingham Review of the gig.

‘Risk to Exist’ – Maxïmo Park

Risk to Exist by Maxïmo Park is out on general release from 21st April, via Cooking Vinyl. For more on Maxïmo Park, visit

For more on Maxïmo Park at the O2 Institute, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit


For more from the O2 Institute, including full venue details and online ticket sales, visit

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs and Tours, visit

ALBUM: Risk to Exist – Maxïmo Park

Words by Damien Russell / Pic by Ed Taylor

Those of you who know Maxïmo Park’s back catalogue will know they are a band who’ve had a little bit of everything over the years: diversity and cohesion, political and emotional, good reception and bad. It would be fair to say that their latest album, Risk to Exist, might be something of an unknown.

The first thing I should say is that this review will contain spoilers. So stop reading now if mystery is something you need in your life before you listen. The reason I say that is that while Risk To Exist has many elements, subtlety is not among them; it would impossible to do any comprehensive review without giving at least some of the game away.

Okay, so the nod to mystique done. Risk To Exist is an 11-song rollercoaster of an album that is instantly recognisable as being Maxïmo Park. Also this is a political record, and it’s clear to see that in the world according to Maxïmo Park politics is in a bad way.

There is a change in mood and emotion in the lyrics as you listen through the record, but also the consistent feeling of dissatisfaction and negativity. Almost at times like moving through the five stages of grief, perhaps missing out the bargaining stage. There is a bouncy melancholy to the album’s opener, ‘What Did We Do to Deserve This’, and the closing track ‘Alchemy’ has a feeling of resignation and being thankful for what you have that rounds the whole thing off nicely. The middle is a melee of anger, confusion and disappointment, with a side order of resentment for good measure.

Of course all of those negative emotions are tempered by Maxïmo Park’s sound and musical style, so an angry song (lyrically) is at times wrapped in a bouncy 80’s synth-pop style; ‘What Did We Do to Deserve This’ is a great example.

That’s not to say the band’s sound hasn’t evolved; through the album Maxïmo Park are both of, and outside, ‘their time’ in equal measure. They capture that early ‘00s Alt-Pop sound and then slide into an 80’s synth-fest, rolling back out again to give a nod towards the rock stylings we all know from ‘Our Velocity’.

It would be overstating to say that the changes in sound are seamless and it would be easy for a casual listener to hear a ‘collection of songs’ rather than an album. But it became clear to me while listening to Risk to Exist that the subject matter brings the whole thing together in a clever way. Although I wonder if the presentation might make this record become dated more quickly, and there are times I found myself listening and wishing that the lyrics had been made a bit less obvious to give more room for interpretation and for me, the listener, to put a bit of myself into what I was hearing. I hesitate to use the word ‘preachy’ but I was thinking it at times; perhaps that will divide listeners, riling those of a different opinion.

I’ve always been a fan of politics and music working side by side, to try to affect positive change. But there is a difference between encouraging unity and positive action and railing against a mood and time that you don’t agree with. Personally I think Risk To Exist has crossed into the latter, which does dilute the message a little.

In summary, Risk to Exist is a good album. Perhaps not a great album, but there are a few tracks on it that I would listen to over and over. My personal favourites are ‘What Did We Do to Deserve This’, which I mentioned earlier, and ‘Work and Then Wait’ – a mid-album track that could definitely be another single, and quite a successful one too.

It will be interesting to see what their overt political leanings bring to the live stage as Maxïmo Park tour their sixth studio album across the UK. Birmingham get’s its first chance to find out on the 5th of May at the O2 Institute, then again at the inaugural Beyond the Tracks festival on Sat 16th September.

‘Risk to Exist’ – Maxïmo Park

Risk to Exist by Maxïmo Park is out on general release from 21st April, via Cooking Vinyl. For more on Maxïmo Park, visit

For more on Maxïmo Park at the O2 Institute, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

For more on Maxïmo Park at Beyond the Tracks, visit