Review: Metronomy at O2 Guildhall, Southampton

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80%
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Excellent

Metronomy delivered an evening filled with excellency and enthusiasm.

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The UK leg of the ‘Metronomy Forever’ tour began here in Southampton after an extensive run through Europe. The band said they felt honoured to be back in the UK playing new music for us and judging by the crowd it would appear the feeling was very much mutual… Some bands like to arrive on stage “fashionably late”, however Metronomy showed us that in fact, it’s much more fashionable to be on time. I suppose being called Metronomy it would not be right to arrive in an untimely manner – I’ll let you work out what the irony of that one would be. As the clock struck nine the quintet entered the stage donning their classic white jumpsuits. A slightly earlier than usual stage time compared to the standard headline act at the Guildhall, yet many acts don’t have the extensive back catalogue that Metronomy have curated over the years. On with the gig…

There wasn’t anything particularly obscure about the stage set up; two setups of various synthesisers and keyboards either side left plenty of room centre stage for lead vocalist Joe Mount & Bassist Gbenga Adelekan to dance around, which we know is something the entire band like to do when able. Towards the back and raised on a podium, drummer Anna Prior’s kit had the words ‘Anna Forever’ printed on the bass drum. A simple but nice touch for the current tour. Their experience on stage showed, performing songs at tightly as they are in their recordings while also experimenting, trying out the odd thing or two. All carried out with excellent energy and beaming smiles.

The first seven songs alternated perfectly between their latest album Metronomy Forever and (arguably most popular) second album The English Riviera. Blasting things off with the upbeat ‘Lately’ and immediately settling into a groove with ‘The Bay’. The pattern broke on song eight where the band’s lo-fi roots shone through with ‘Reservoir’. Normally it’s when a band build up-tempo and dynamics that a crowd tends to lose their mind but in this case, the choral organ and basic electro beat was enough to spark an enormous sing-a-long and a widespread two-step. The lo-fi party continued with new track ‘Walking in the Dark’ adding powerful bass synths on top another beautifully basic beat and catchy vocal hook. When Mount asked for the crowd’s singing voices he sparked outrage by making up a story of being in Portsmouth the night before, claiming that the locals had been talking badly of the Sotoner’s ability to sing. I guess you could say Mount knows how to work (up) a crowd.

I wouldn’t penalise you for thinking that the band went completely off-script, just jamming on stage for about a quarter of an hour in the middle of their set. The amount of joy they seemed to be having coupled with sporadic lighting was enough to make you forget the instrumental tendencies of their first couple albums. Things subsequently became even more random as three members exited the stage, leaving keyboardists Oscar Cash & Gabriel Stebbing to turn the Guildhall into a stomping electronic rave, dropping new track ‘Lying Low’ as they slowly moved their musical setups towards one another as the track built, meeting mid-stage for the song’s crescendo and moving back outwards as the song faded.

A big ending to the set with ‘The Look’ and ‘Love Letters’, two of Metronomy’s biggest and best tracks. This was made apparent by the increased decibel level from the crowd. ‘Sex Emoji’, a track from the latest album, drew the set to a close, which was questionable as the song was neither released as a single nor does it seem to have any deep seated sentimental value. Nevertheless, the band exited to audible cries of sadness for their departure and thunderous applause which continued until their re-entrance. Only the original three members re-entered the stage, strangely to play another new tune, ‘Upset My Girlfriend’. Mount strummed the acoustic guitar as the synthesisers played by Cash and Stebbing injected additional power into an already emotive track. Adelekan and Prior re-entered for one last sing-a-long, which came in the form of an early track and fan favourite ‘Radio Ladio’. I don’t think anybody in the room wanted the gig to end. Equally, I think the band could have kept it going with the same exhibitionism and enthusiasm. Metronomy forever and ever and ever, please.

You can keep track of Metronomy’s upcoming tour dates here.

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