Back in August last year my favourite band, The Maccabees, decided to call it a day. Within the next couple weeks the band are heading out to play their farewell shows, and I decided it was time to write one last post about them. If I’m being honest, I feel like I could probably write a book about them…
When the band split last year I wrote a post that explained how I felt about it all at the time. It might seem daft, but it was actually quite hard to write. I was very emotional. I guess I still am, because they’ve played such a big part in my life. I always say that they’ve been the soundtrack to my coming of age. You can read that previous post here but for now, let’s crack on with this one…
From 2009 to 2015, I managed to see the band live 21 times. Over the next week and a bit I’ll be seeing them another 5 on my own mini tour in Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and twice in London. I couldn’t only go to one final show, right?
I’ve been reminiscing on all of the times that I’ve seen the band play live – a mix of headline shows, festival slots and even support slots. Their BBC 6 Music Festival performance at the Sage, Gateshead, really stood out for me. I was with some of my closest friends, the atmosphere was really great, and I was also still on a high because I’d seen them the night before in Sheffield too.
My two favourite gigs though have to be from February 2013, when I flew to New York to see them play at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg. I’m pretty sure that’s definitely one of the most ridiculous fangirl things that I’ve done, but man it was worth it! Spending every bit of my student loan on flights, hotel and tickets. Blagging our way into David Letterman to see them play one song. Waking up on the morning of the 2nd gig to find out I’d be interviewing Orlando for my student radio station. Getting to watch the band soundcheck… It was an absolute dream come true. I remember being such a nervous wreck! You can listen to that interview here.
I went to New York with my friend Steph, who is also a huge fan. We shared that same excitement and passion for the band, and had some amazing times following them around for their shows. Press passes for Parklife just so we could see them, dancing under a disco ball at Ally Pally, even going to The Black Keys just to see them support and getting a pint poured over our heads because we were the only ones around us dancing to them!
I’ve formed so many strong friendships with people over The Maccabees, and it makes me smile.
When it comes to favourite songs, I find it incredibly hard to decide! All of their songs evoke certain memories for me, and take me back to different times and places throughout my life. ‘X-Ray’ was the first song I heard of theirs, so that always holds a special place in my heart. ‘No Kind Words’ always stands out, too. I remember when it came out the video was always on MTV on a morning when I was getting ready for school, and it was always stuck in my head! If I’m being completely honest, there’s not one song of theirs that I dislike.
There are a few that I get quite emotional about, ‘River Song’ being the main one. The last few times I saw them live in 2015, they played that and I got goosebumps and cried every time. When they split, it actually took me a while to be able to listen to that song again because it makes me well up…even more so nowadays.
Another fave, especially live, has to be ‘Pelican’. As soon as I hear it, no matter where I am, I get a huge grin on my face and immediately start to dance. The crowds always go crazy at gigs when it plays too so the atmosphere is always amazing!
The one thing that I will always praise the band for is their attitude towards their fans. I’ve been lucky enough to meet them a number of times, and I’ve always felt so comfortable in their presence. They’re so thankful for any kind words said, happy to talk and happy to take photos. I even managed to get Orlando to write some lyrics for me once to get tattooed! They’re just so humble, and it makes me admire them more.
I know I’m not the only one that The Maccabees meant a lot to, and I thought it would be nice to get other fans on board my nostalgia train, so here’s what they had to say…
Aw, The Maccabees, they’ll always have a place in my heart. I remember getting their debut album, Colour It In, when I worked at HMV and I’ve been hooked on their music ever since. Their music just made me so happy. I built so many relationships around my love for that band and ever lasting friendships, being able to share such a strong connection over our appreciation for their music. In 2012 when Given to the Wild came out their music struck a chord (excuse the pun!), the lyrics and composition on that album were beautiful. I spent that whole year seeing them at gig upon gig, even flying a friend out to Benacassim just to ensure we wouldn’t miss a show. I have so many happy memories of seeing them live.
It’s impossible to pick a favourite song as they all mean something different. I feel like I’ve grown up with them, and their albums came out at key moments in my life, listening to them just automatically takes me back to those years with such a huge smile on my face. I’m so sad to see them call it a day, my journey, their journey, isn’t over and it feels too soon, like saying goodbye to a partner or a friend moving away. I hope the farewell gigs aren’t the last, they’re too special, we need the music and good times to continue!
Honestly, The Maccabees are the best band in Britain. Not just my opinion of course, an opinion that is shared by thousands upon thousands of doting fans across the country and further afield. And they have some back catalogue to back it up. For me, the best thing about these lads is their ability to move with the times, which just so happened to reflect my own adolescence all the way through to (admittedly, questionable) adulthood. From the raucous early days of ‘X-Ray’, ‘Latchmere’ & ‘Lego’, right the way through to the maturity of ‘WWII Portraits’, ‘Kamakura’ & ‘Ribbon Road’ (with a couple of absolute masterpiece records in between), they have always been there at just the right time for me. Without getting overly personal, their show at 6music was perfectly timed for me, I had never needed a pick me up more in my entire life, and what better way to do it than to see The Maccabees play in the heart of the Sage, Gateshead, with the beautiful backdrop of the River Tyne. It was truly magical, something which can and will never be repeated. I genuinely struggle to pick holes in any track they’ve released to date, both musically and lyrically, brilliant and consistent in equal measure.
So now the time has come and they’re going their separate ways. It’s a kind of bittersweet feeling because they had the opportunity to end things on their terms, and also I feel somewhere deep within that’s they ain’t finished just yet. Maybe that’s just idiotic hope. But thanks guys. Thanks for the 4 tremendous records. Thanks for the friends I’ve made. Thanks for the live shows. And thanks for playing one last one in Newcastle. Class.
In Summer 2007, I was a scrawny and virtually friendless 17/18 year old kid who spent the majority of his time dossing about the record stores of Newcastle. In an eager quest to uncover new music, I became obsessed with instores. I’d see them all. It didn’t matter if I knew who they were, or even what they sounded like – I’d be there, front and centre, watching and waiting to get my limited edition 7″ signed. The list of bands I saw reads like an indie landfill Yellow Pages.
I remember, however, being incredibly excited about one band’s visit. They were an intriguing and suitably angular London five piece, who had managed to sneak a couple of singles into the Top 40, back when an indie band doing so felt like the most anarchic thing to me. I squeezed into a crammed store and proceeded to be blown away by what quickly became my new favourite band. Unlike a lot of the other bands I saw that summer, I felt an immediate connection with these. Once they were done, I sheepishly approached them and barely said two words as I shly asked them to sign my singles. After that instore, I became obsessed with that debut album, I must have listened to it at least once a day for a good three months, cherishing my signed copy. It became a soundtrack to First Love, a breakup and loads of other stuff it’s probably best forget.
My love for The Maccabees mainly started when Alex dragged me to see them at Ally Pally a fair few years ago, (and can we just note, thank GOD she did because it made me realise how brilliant they were). Since then, it became a bit of a habit for us to travel far and wide all over the UK (and even over the pond to NYC at one point) to see our favourite band play live as much as we could. From sneaking our way into David Letterman Show in New York at the last minute to see them perform, to finding ourselves at Parklife chatting away to them, there are so many memories and amazing people we met because of a mutual love for The Maccabees. Thanks for everything, lads.
And now I’d like to finish this long post with a thank you.
To The Maccabees…
Thank you for allowing me to bond with people over your music. Thank you for being the soundtrack to my growing up. Thank you for being so lovely, and caring about your fans. Thank you for making me sing and dance like I’ve never done before. Thank you for giving me something to be passionate about. Thank you for being a comfort blanket when things got tough. And thank you for giving me some of the happiest memories that I have.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you x