Metronomy; O2 Academy, Leeds, 18/3/14
Metronomy are a band that I listen to. I mean really listen. I’ve always considered their music multi-layered and intricate enough not to seek any visual accompaniment; and so I was uncertain about seeing the eclectic four-piece live.
I wondered how well the band would come across on stage, away from the screen of sleek, studio-enhanced finesse captured by 2011 album The English Riviera and latest release Love Letters, with its bashful, low-key tone. Metronomy now consist of frontman Joe Mount, keyboardist Oscar Cash, drummer Anna Prior and bassist Gbenga Adelekan.
A slow and somewhat melancholy start with ‘Call Me’ failed to draw the crowd’s attention completely. The four band members seemed to lack a sense of cohesion and unity; each musician looked immersed in their private bubble. The audience’s enthusiasm increased in response to hearing older material, such ‘The Look’, and popular new single ‘Love Letters’, but the chemistry on the stage was still lacking. A change in formation helped a little, with Mount taking centre stage while the other band members clustered around the two keyboards behind him, creating a more unified feel for numbers like ‘Corinne’, which had everyone grooving.
Other highlights included ‘Boy Racers’, the sexy bassline sounding amazing due to the high quality sound technology. ‘Everything Goes My Way’ was as ever a gem, showcasing the talent of drummer and vocalist Prior. The songs from The English Riviera and older material like 2007 hit ‘Radio Ladio’ tended to draw a more appreciative response than their newer songs, reflecting the smaller, more personal feel of the 2014 album.
To match the new direction of Love Letters, Metronomy has abandoned their old tradition of having light bulbs attached to their chests on stage, in favour of a sophisticated new light show: glowing neon keyboards and synthesisers and impressive cloud-like silhouettes behind the band. Lighting up in various stages of sunrise, they meshed well with the music, my favourite elements being the glare of yellow lights into the audience in time with the drums on ‘She Wants’, and the energy and vibrancy of the strobe for upbeat numbers like ‘Reservoir’.
The thing about Metronomy is that they seem to be afraid to let go and really get into the music, leaving the audience working hard to engage with them. Everything about their gig seemed planned down to the letter, from the well-rehearsed set list, to the movements on and offstage, to the matching burgundy suit jackets. Kudos, though, to Adelekan for his passionate enthusiasm and funky dancing, and to Mount for his praise of Leeds and quirky Marks & Spencer’s anecdotes. Although there was room for improvement in terms of the song order and the engagingness factor, Metronomy’s gig provided an opportunity to just close my eyes and dance, and not one I would have passed up.