After Orlando Weeks and his new three-piece band have performed their first song at Hackney venue EartH – an atmospheric, somewhat mystifying opener of calming but complex neo-jazz – a man in the audience quietly asks his neighbour, “Which one is he?”
It’s a reasonable question. The former Maccabees frontman retreated from the spotlight when the indie band split in 2016, and now returns with original solo material – but there’s no fanfare, no forced celebration.
There’s also no nostalgia for the Maccabees era – no throwbacks or fan favourites to speak of. Instead the new music boasts shades of the ambient post-rock of 1980s band Talk Talk, at once intimate and urgent. This gig feels special, offering new material from Weeks’ forthcoming solo album (due for release later this year), from which just one track, ‘Safe in Sound’, has been released so far.
The Maccabees’ dissolution shook the indie world – 14 years of shaping and bolstering the landscape of immense British guitar bangers is no mean feat. But the news came with the promise of closure, with a farewell tour giving fans one last goodbye in 2017 NME called their final gig, in north London’s Alexandra Palace, “the very pinnacle of heartbreaking”. Tonight though, it’s a new era with an entirely different atmosphere. We’ve had ample time to mourn, and now Weeks gently eases us into a wholly new sound to fall in love with.
Read the full gig review at NME