Metronomy, live at The Roundhouse

Hot on the heels of Deerhunter, Cuzomano and Easy C found themselves back at Camden’s Roundhouse just ninety-six hours later to see what Metronomy would offer up live, in support of Joseph Mount’s rather extensive, most recent LP, Metronomy Forever. But first, a quick, contextual history lesson is also needed.

Back when Metronomy were getting started, Mount had wanted to create Dance music and often spoke about it. The later success of the relatively un-dance-y English Riviera ironically resulted in invitations to play numerous, large-scale festivals, including both Glastonbury and Barcelona’s Sónar. The latter, famed for its indulgence of Dance and Rave culture’s more hedonistic facets, proved to be the greatest Metronomy show I ever personally saw. Mount used the opportunity to play dance-tacular versions of his repertoire, revelling with the band during the occasion (and telling the audience as much). Following that show, they returned to more ‘ordinary’ performances of their music – still good, but apparently never again to be turned up to eleven… 

…until, it would turn out, the 7th November 2019.

Emerging on-stage to backing track, Wedding, the band – still comprising Oscar Cash, Anna Prior, Olugbenga Adelekan and Michael Lovett – open with new track Lately. A personal favourite from the new album, Prior’s thumping kick drum off-sets the song’s lower key nature, presaging the quintet’s pent-up energy. Any fears over a show too reliant on new material then quickly evaporated with follow-up The Bay, which is amped-up to get even the most doubting of Thomases tapping a foot in appreciation.

A tit-for-tat, new-one-old-one format follows. Wedding Bells translates incredibly well in live setting and is potentially the best song from the new album as a result. Corinne proves to be the first ‘surprise’ track to catch fans off-guard, eliciting more than a few gleeful whoops before Whitsand Bay demonstrates that the new tracks sit incredibly well alongside the old in a live setting. 

The decision to blend old and new consistently throughout the set is a very good one. Mount and team keep a packed audience massively on-side throughout the night, drawing readily on The English Riviera (Everything Goes My Way, She Wants) to keep the majority dancing, but also on less-celebrated tracks (Love Letters’ Reservoir and Nights Out’s The End Of You Too) that nod to longer-standing fans well.

Every song is performed with passionate energy alongside a four-to-the-floor thumping beat and dirty, Adelekan-supplied bass. Indeed, Cuzomano hears one audience member behind him declare to a friend: “This is really good. You really should listen to the whole new album. It’s… long.”

With something of an actual back catalogue to draw on, and with every song performed with such enthusiasm, volume, energy and renewed rhythm, it is quite difficult not to have a bloody good time. Mount truly delivers in his uniquely wonk-pop way, happy to intersperse the set with eminently danceable instrumentals like Walking In The Dark and genuinely amusing, off-kilter stage banter – first, with an endearing and humble reminisce over playing in Camden’s Barfly many years earlier, and later in creating an atmosphere of “absolute harmony,” replete with band member animal noises, to presage I’m Aquarius.

Nor is Mount shy to get a little boogie on, as the closing part of the set features a tour of Metronomy’s hits; Night’s Out’s The End Of You Too, Summer ‘08’s Old Skool (delicious when performed live), Metronomy Forever’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream (the weakest of ‘the hits’), and, of course, The Look, which is lovingly extended to maximise impact on an adoring, dancing crowd.

If one mistake is made, it is that The Look does not mark the end of proceedings. Love Letters and Sex Emoji follow, although at this point one can notice the audience’s energy beginning to wane. There’s also a two-song encore to yield Upset My Girlfriend and Radio Ladio, and by now the steady stream of departures post-The Look is too obvious. Challenging though it may be for an artist to accept that some people may only stick around for the song, it would appear that this is the case for Metronomy and they would do well to save The Look for the actual set closer, even if they don’t want to.

Without a doubt the best Metronomy show I have seen in years, and an excellent harbinger for the rest of the tour dates to come. Should every performance be as hit-laden and eminently danceable as this show, this is a tour you should not miss.

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