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:: Maximo Park :: Clor ::
08 November 2004 / The Roadhouse / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Welcome to the new post punk prog indie rock pop, where freed from tiresome genre affiliation, bands like Clor can get onstage sounding like Gary Numan fronting the Futureheads, change time signature several times in a song, and come out looking rather brilliant. Another song starts slowly, with a Jeff Buckley fragility in the singer's voice then takes off on some syn-drum fuelled mystery tour. On the one hand there are echoes of the more interesting end of the C86 scene, the scratchy likes of Big Flame and A Witness; on the other hand an equally unhinged Krautrock revival going on in the keyboards. These are courtesy of a smartly dressed, unassuming looking chap who fills any available space with Kraftwerk meets Radiophonic Workshop noises. Sometimes he seems to be doing his own thing completely - in fact at times they all do, but somehow it all works rather splendidly as a whole. Unfortunately the later club night necessitates a rather tight schedule, but by the time they depart the stage at 9 prompt they have stuffed so many ideas through my head I have to sit down.

Maximo Park's Paul Smith strides out onto the stage looking like Steve Coogan playing Nick Cave, all not-quite-right suit (The sort 18-year-olds wear for job interviews, not the trendy Interpol sort) and swivelly eyes. He looks somewhat at odds with his band's energetic punked-up indie pop thrash, until you realise his limbs are all on strings like that BBC political correspondent Andrew Marr, and liable to jerk out in any direction at any time. His between song addresses to nobody in particular are equally original, delivered in a lightly fried north-eastern drawl - "That's the end of that song. That one was short. This one is longer." Actually they're all pretty short, generally weighing in at under the two minute mark. There's a certain Jarvis Cocker tone to his singing, both in the arch delivery and sometime docu-drama lyrics.

Meanwhile Lukas Wooller, more your librarian-who-makes-nuclear-bombs-in-the-garage sort of strange looking, walks round in very small circles behind his keyboards unleashing some rather cheesy sounds now and again. This is also good - all the best bands are mildly disconcerting. Not that this is impenetrable art rock the rest of the band trade in good old-fashioned powerchords and without the psychotic pair upfront may well have ended up playing fairly bog-standard Britpop. But with Smith now leafing through a small red book and stretching his rubber face into ever more bizarre contortions you barely even notice them there.

Again, their set is a punchy half hour and over almost before its started; the whole evening leaving me with the strange feeling of being hit with a breezeblock twice, and enjoying it so much I want to do it again rather soon.

Maximo Park

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