Gig review: Metronomy at O2 Academy Leeds
Towards the end of tonight’s set, Joseph Mount, songwriter, singer and guitarist of Metronomy, apologises for the band’s disastrous previous attempt to play in Leeds (Metronomy’s set at this year’s Live at Leeds was cancelled at the last minute due to flooding at the venue).
They prove worth the wait tonight.
After a somewhat muted start, the five-piece, kitted out in uniform white boiler suit-style outfits, soon ignite considerable sections of the audience into a frenzied enthusiasm you might not expect from a Monday night crowd. Although there are mercifully no burst pipes this time around, different types of liquid are catapulted through the air as dance moves make it difficult to hold on to drinks tightly enough.
Metronomy prove an impressively dynamic live act for a band for a band that has at times been seen as Mount’s one-man-band project. Each member is allowed to bask in the spotlight (including a deliberately ludicrous duelling synths act, during which the instruments of keyboardists Oscar Cash and Michael Lovett glide across the stage and eventually collide amongst churning proto-electro sounds), highlighting that Metronomy model 2019 is very much a band with a capital B.
The well-oiled team effort helps to unify a set that draws from all stages of the band’s audaciously diverse discography.
Past albums have tended to stick to a particular concept, veering erratically from the squeakily rubbery electronica of Nights Out to the demo-esque sparseness of Love Letters via the South Coast Yacht-Rock vibes of The English Riviera. New album Metronomy Forever – the band’s sixth – executes similarly daring stylistic leaps within one album and even a single song, boosted by the sharpening impact working with pop stars ala Robyn has had on Mount’s melody generator.
In theory, there is very little to connect the, say, the eccentric, propulsive instrumental The End of You Too with the slick pop chops of new tune Wedding Bells, the twilit dub balladry of Walking In The Dark and the one half Motown pastiche, other half relentless House repetition of Love Letters, a heady burst of energy that closes the main set to a rapturous reception.
Delivered with added muscle, and accompanied with a pretension-proof taste for daftness (it’s hard to tell whether the awkward moves executed during a superbly robust take on nimble instrumental Boy Racers are tongue-in-cheek or the nearest Mount & co. can get to sharp dance floor manoeuvres), the potentially confusing array of styles coheres into a unified, consistently compelling whole.
At its frequent highpoints, including the rickety, mid-80’s-Prince-sipping-tins-at-a-deserted-quarry funk of Reservoir and a pumped-up take on the wistful pop gold dust of The Look, tonight’s set proves that Metronomy have managed to carve a unique niche by combining playful party vibes and musical eclecticism with deep reserves of melancholy that gives these superficially slick tunes some serious substance. It’s a unique MO that remains as vivid as ever.