LIVE: Maribou State @ The Albert Hall

WORDS BY: TIM MOONEY         PHOTOS BY: SAM NEILL AT BRIXTON ACADEMY

The Manchester Albert Hall was a lost venue until it reopened back in 2013. The refurbished Wesleyan chapel now provides a unique environment for some of the bigger bands and artists who take their tours to Manchester, and its vintage, somewhat eerie setting matched perfectly with the bold and euphoric sounds of Maribou State at the weekend.

Celebrating the release of their third Studio album which surfaced in September 2018, Maribou State have been touring America and Europe ever since, and their sold out Manchester show was met with great anticipation from fans. After arriving at the venue and finding a spot close to the stage, which was at the time kitted out with the bands impressive range of performance equipment, my attention turned to the supporting DJ, Earlyham Mystics.

He provided an eclectic mix of ambient and uplifting tracks (similar to what you may expect to hear from artists like George Fitzgerald or even Bonobo at times) and did a great job of lifting the mood and keeping people dancing as the audience started to flood in and fill the hall. Earlyham Mystics ended his set at around 20:45 to a ripple of applause and general appreciation from the crowd before departing for the main act.

On reflection, I feel he could have continued his set for longer, as by the end the crowd was much larger than it had been midway through his set, and I felt he was deserving of a larger audience. In addition, Maribou State came out slightly later than scheduled, around 20 minutes later, meaning the mood of the crowd had started to dwindle slightly during the long break between performances. Nonetheless, when the lights dimmed and Maribou State took to the stage to perform opening track Home, the restlessness of the crowd was immediately forgotten as we became soothed by the ambient yet powerful sounds of their arrival.

I will always be slightly biased toward bands that show a range of musical talents and switch seamlessly between instruments during a performance, therefore, Maribou State have my complete gratitude. Each member had a range of keyboards, sample pads, guitars and synthesizers at their fingertips and alternated their use of each piece of equipment throughout their tracks. And as if there wasn’t already enough for the eye to take in, their touring vocalist Holly Walker took to the stage for their third track Steal. This added a whole new dimension to the performance which previously had no obvious leading member, but now Holly was able to address the hall from her position as front woman, and the crowd absolutely loved it.

The smooth transitions between each track meant there wasn’t a real need for the band to talk in-between songs, so instead they did so during tracks, or to motivate on the build-up to a big chorus. From start to end, they provided a constant flow of music that fluctuated perfectly between mellow breaks and explosive, stadium-worthy choruses, all performed before a vintage-esque, summery backdrop that could have had even the frowniest gig-goer in the hall smiling peacefully. Maribou State closed the show with Turnmills, a personal favourite of mine lifted from their most recent album, and the crowd were sad to see them go after a mesmerising performance.

All in all, Maribou State’s performance felt like a breath of fresh air and frenzy of dance all in one, and I hope to catch them again at a festival this summer.

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