“I have to keep my performance to a minimum,” Paul Smith apologises, “because otherwise my eye will explode.”
The emergency eye operation which requires the singer to wear shades tonight was so serious, he shouldn’t really be on stage with Maximo Park.
But their fifth album Too Much Information’s unexpected Top 10 entry, after the band were thought to have faded away, shows these literary rabble-rousers’ resilience.
“Apply Some Pressure”, from their Mercury-nominated 2005 debut A Certain Trigger, remains their most thrillingly defiant moment. The band’s affection for libraries and learning is largely left implicit, as they help the packed, uninhibited crowd let off all the steam they possess. Lukas Wooller scissor-kicks while playing a keyboard he almost tips over in exhilaration, and Smith, an agreeable misfit of a frontman, makes no visible concession to his injury.
Reflective, atmospheric new songs balance the post-Britpop, post-punk hedonism. Smith sings “Leave This Island” conversationally low, and looks somehow noble as he stands alone at the lip of the stage. Whatever medication he’s on is worth it, as Maximo Park drink in the sight of a crowd roaring their return to the rafters.