Don’t tell anyone, but Paul Smith was a bit of a rebel when he was younger.
Forget smashing up hotel rooms and throwing guitars around on stage. The lead singer of Maxïmo Park freely admits to all-out criminal activity – at Stockton Library no less.
“I remember taking out Who’s Next and taping it,” he says, without a hint of remorse. “I listened to it on my Walkman and loved it.”
He’s speaking, of course, of the 1971 LP from music legends The Who.
“Everyone knows the hits from the sixties, but I really enjoyed listening to stuff from their seventies period,” he continues.
“I was into grungy bands and you’d always hear them name-check The Who, so you’d end up listening to it because the people you liked said you should check it out. And it was great.”
Imagine Paul’s excitement then at the prospect of opening for The Who on the band’s 50th anniversary tour. Maxïmo Park will be the support for the celebratory gig at Metro Radio Arena on December 9.
“I don’t know whether the Arena suggested it... or whether Roger Daltrey suggested it. You don’t really ask those questions to be honest,” he laughs.
“Basically, if someone asks if you want to play with The Who, you just work out the quickest way to say ‘yes’.”
It won’t be the first time Newcastle-bred Maxïmo have done the warm-up honours for global superstars.
“We played with The Police when they reformed and we played with the Rolling Stones a few years ago in Scandinavia and with New Order as well at Wembley. We’re almost used to being asked to play with legendary bands... but not really.
“I absolutely love it. You end up playing to a huge crowd of people and you get to play with and meet legendary people who you’ve admired forever. It’s really exciting.”
Paul says since the gig was announced, he’s had a lot of two word texts from friends. “They’ve basically just been saying ‘THE WHO’. And my mum and dad are very excited as well, although I’m not sure I’d better let my mam near Roger Daltrey.”
Mrs Smith won’t be the only fan hoping to get near the front at the very special gig.
Promising to take the audience of an ‘amazing journey’ through their career to date, The Who Hits 50 tour will pack in a veritable feast of the band’s signature sound with tracks like Won’t Get Fooled Again, My Generation, Baba O’Riley, Who Are You, I Can’t Explain, Pinball Wizard, Behind Blue Eyes and more besides.
Pete Townshend describes it as ‘hits, picks, mixes and misses’, and adds: “We are what we are, and extremely good at it, but we’re lucky to be alive and still touring.
“If I had enough hairs to split I would say that for thirteen years since 1964 The Who didn’t really exist, so we are really only thirty-seven”.
Meanwhile Roger Daltrey reckons: “This is the beginning of the long goodbye.”
We’d better enjoy them while we can then, eh?
The Who Hits 50, supported by Maxïmo Park comes to the Metro Radio Arena Newcastle on December 9. For tickets, call 0844 493 6666 or visit www.metroradioarena.co.uk