A whistle blows over a scream of distorted feedback and clashing cymbals to announce arrival of The Cutaways. Synth, guitar and drums launch into an explosive little set highlighted by the standout 'Lovers Are Lunatics', a catchy power pop gem of a song.
The Cutaways are here to be noticed and have dialled the amps up to stun. Second song in and Paul McIver cajoles the standing punters to get up closer to the barrier and the evening begins to kick to life. Grace McMacken's synth provides a throbbing pulse in place of a bass guitar, which is felt as well as heard and threatens to remove fillings. Paul's guitar rips away while he sings and Grace yelps back. Random acts of percussion are added to the mix, the stage littered with wood blocks by the end of a lively set appreciated by the filling crowd.
The venue is close to full when The Maccabees hit the stage. Felix White grins and eyes the audience from the off, keeping a roguish rapport going throughout the set. 'No Kind Words', one of the darker songs from the new album, is an engaging opener.
Intensity is evident from the start, singer Orlando Weeks looks lost in the songs and the White brothers whip an intricate cascade of sound from their guitars. This is something special - The Maccabees are good on their recorded tracks, live they are incredible.
The set gives us a lot of the recent 'Wall of Arms' album, mixed with the hits from 'Colour It In'. The new songs have more edge and the music is fuller. The guitar work was always accomplished, now it can sound angry as well as whimsical.
The singles from the earlier album all get welcomed like old friends. 'First Love' and 'Toothpaste Kisses' get the audience participation treatment. A version of 'Precious Time' which gets heavier as the song progresses is a real stormer and a surprising amount of 'Wall of Arms' is already known to the crowd and appreciated. 'No Kind Words' and 'Can You Give It' stand out, before 'Love You Better' builds to a crescendo and brings the show to an end.
The band engage the crowd, the musicianship and sound quality are perfect and the night ends far too soon. The Maccabees have their own unique sound based around Weeks' vulnerable vocal style and the buzzing lead and rhythm exchanges between Felix and Hugo White. Close up in the Spring & Airbrake they deliver one of the best live performances by a guitar band that I have seen in some time.