LIVE: Maximo Park / Pip Blom - O2 Institute, Birmingham, 30/09/2022 1

LIVE: Maximo Park / Pip Blom – O2 Institute, Birmingham, 30/09/2022

The North East’s finest, Maximo Park are in town for the first night of a tour ahead of the release of their Singular compilation, with the promise of many of its sparkling 45s featuring in tonight’s set.

Along for the ride are Pip Blom, all the way from Amsterdam, who open the evening with half an hour of premium quality indie pop which is a perfect fit for the Maximo audience, already out in force on this rainy Midlands Friday night. Their celebrated single ‘Keep It Together’ arrives like an old friend amongst some of their newer material; the band are well drilled and their songs are full of charm.

Returning heroes Maximo Park have had many great nights in the Second City in the past, and while they have played several Birmingham venues over the years, the Institute seems to be their spiritual home (and not just because it used to be a church!). They take to the stage to warm cheers and tear into ‘All Of Me’, a relatively recent addition to their ever growing catalogue of fine singles, (from last year’s Nature Always Wins), before rolling right back to only their second release, (and their first for Warp Records), ‘The Coast Is Always Changing’.

Frontman Paul Smith admits that there has been a slight mistake with the set list; they hadn’t meant to put two singles from the last album so close together, ”But it gets it out of the way if you don’t know them!”, before playing ”A song about your baby not letting you sleep”, AKA ‘Baby Sleep’. It’s a night of mostly celebratory singalong type singles, (and actually, that describes a large portion of Maximo Park’s output), meaning there is no room for the recent epic ‘Child Of The Flatlands’ , though the introspective ‘Leave This Island’, the excellent synth-heavy lead single for 2014’s Too Much Information, does make a welcome appearance next. Its predecessor, 2012’s The National Health, is represented by its frantic title track, (“A hit single in Latvia and a Number 1 in Uzbekistan”, jokes Smith, ”But I think the internet has covered up that information”), and the playful ‘Hips and Lips’, with its ace and very inventive drums from Tom English.

Smith reveals that a fan vote before the tour elevated the next song into the set list, ”We’ve got 32 singles, and have picked the ones you would expect, the people pleasers”, (where the remaining singles were polled for each venue),…and at least five people in Birmingham picked ‘Karaoke Plays’!

The material from debut A Certain Trigger gets an expectedly rapturous response, (all four of its Top 40 hits will appear throughout the night), but there are equally keen greetings for songs like 2009’s ‘The Kids Are Sick Again’ , an unusually structured song that sounds like a stadium singalong tonight, the perfect example of the marriage of Smith’s lyrical warmth and the band’s spiky tunes (often courtesy of guitarist and founder Duncan Lloyd) – his love of The Go-Betweens is well-documented and his words often have a similar nostalgic glow; documents to times past that perhaps do not always receive the credit they deserve.

The hits keep coming with a couple of singles from 2017’s Risk To Exist, (though surprisingly, not its anthemic title track), all four singles from probably their most commercially successful record, Our Earthly Pleasures, (including the incendiary 2007 Top 10 smash ‘Our Velocity’), and ending with perhaps their signature tune, ‘Apply Some Pressure’.

A three-song encore ends the evening, a victory lap finishing with a triumphant ‘Graffiti’, and Smith promising that the band will be back soon. It’s been another B-Town bonanza for Maximo Park.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.