It’s a muggy night in Manchester and local band Pins have already played an excellent support set when Newcastle’s finest, Maximo Park take to the stage of the this most beatific and ornate of venues.

It’s the last night of their tour to promote new album 'Risk to Exist' and if there is any fatigue in the camp it is not evident in the way singer Paul Smith dominates the stage with a mixture of ballerina high kicks and cheesy disco shuffles, while Lukas Wooller rocks his keyboard like he’s trying to violently wake a sleeping rhino. It’s an engaging spectacle and very much the Maximo Park way.

On the first few listens, 'Risk to Exist' is not the band’s best album but it is a grower and in the title track they have a pure pop nugget with its 'Throw Your Arms Around Me' chorus that as the second song in tonight’s set fills the venue superbly before older songs 'I Want You to Stay' and 'Books from Boxes' push things up a notch.

By the time 'Graffiti' explodes from that Duncan Lloyd guitar riff the crowd are at fever-pitch and even those in the seating balcony areas are on their feet as one. It is undoubtedly the older material that bring the best reaction, but tender new song 'The Reason I am Here' is a special moment too.

'Questing, Not Coasting' is a personal highlight before a riotous 'Going Missing' and jaunty 'Girls Who Play Guitars' bring the set to a joyous close.

A three song encore follows consisting of 'By the Monument', referencing the landmark to Charles Grey in Newcastle’s city centre, the usual 'Apply Some Pressure' and 'Get High (No, I don’t)' from 'Risk to Exist'. A job well done by one of England’s best and most enduring bands.

Driving home, I pass the Manchester Arena and sit caught up in traffic for a little while as thousands of Take That fans are leaving. Still buzzing from the gig, I don’t mind this inconvenience as I sit listening to the quite wonderful Danish indie-pop band Northern Portrait covering Cliff Richard’s 'Some People'. Three nights later the history of Manchester will be horrifically and senselessly changed forever.

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Commenting On: Albert Hall, Manchester, 19/5/2017 - Maximo Park

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