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The Maccabees live at St John-at-Hackney Church - review

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BBC Radio 1's Hackney Weekend: The Maccabees

© BBC



It's been one heck of a year for The Maccabees. The south London fivesome started 2012 by releasing what is arguably the best album of their career so far. A solid UK chart placing, numerous festival sets and a Mercury Prize nod later, they returned to home soil to present Given to the Wild in a packed out St John-at-Hackney Church.

The venue is humble but cavernous as the guys strolled out on stage to take their places, Orlando Weeks ditching the expected frontman position of centre stage to perform from the left. As the opening bars of 'Given to the Wild (Intro)' echoed across the hall, there was a sense we were in for something special.

'Feel To Follow' and 'Ayla' felt natural in the surroundings, flicking between the softness in Weeks's voice and the spiralling build-up of guitars. They bore a haunting but celestial quality, as the crowd hipster-bopped in unison, creating an impression of musical communion.

T in the Park: Orlando Weeks of The Maccabees

© David Wardle/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Reading/Leeds Festival 2012 acts: The Maccabees

© PA Images / David Wardle/PA Wire



"Are we so different?" Weeks asked in 'Heave', as Felix White launched into jittering guitar riffs. Given to the Wild is loaded with these soul-searching queries of self-discovery and reflection, and its poignancy was only heightened by the establishment it was being performed in.

What's more, The Maccabees still maintain an unassuming confidence, but a natural ease in their position as artists meant they exuded class and sophistication. They not only know how to write bloomin' good songs, but they're perfecting the art of showcasing the best elements, without over-cooking them in a live setting.

Unsurprisingly, 'Pelican' was received with loud cheers and head-nods as the band bounced to the track's guitar strums, but it was a finale of 'Grew Up At Midnight' that left the biggest impression. Orlando's voice towered the spire, with the crashing of guitars and pianos not too far behind it. It left the show on a mesmerising high - and more fittingly, The Maccabees finishing the year as they started it: presenting their masterpiece.



The Maccabees performed a headline gig at St John-at-Hackney Church in London as part of Mencap's Little Noise Sessions 2012.

Watch the music video for The Maccabees' 'Ayla' below:

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