Metronomy, HMV Forum, London
Wednesday 23 September 2009
Klaxons started the nu-rave "movement" as a semi-fictional scam, but its after-effects can still be felt tonight. Devon's Joseph Mount, the man behind Metronomy, is associated with the briefly burning scene through remixing and touring with Klaxons, and the nod to their glow-stick fad in the pulsing chest-lights his band wear. More vitally, the way he approaches introspective, guitar-loaded indie music as if it's dance music pulls the same genre-bending trick. Last year's breakthrough album, Nights Out, also offered a version of The Streets' 21st-century kitchen-sink tales. Add Mount's interest in clunky 1980s synth-pop, and Metronomy become an honest cross-over hit waiting to happen.
Mount is still tongue-tied and awkward live. That doesn't stop the crowd raising fists that freeze in the air with each stacatto beat, and go almost all the way to the back – commitment to a good time learned at clubs, not gigs. Metronomy spend much of their time in the dark, those chest-beams arcing like miners' lamps. Stagecraft has been imported with four female dancers in red, whose silhouettes jiggle their own chest-lamps as if in a Bond title sequence. They spin and bend to Mount's quick, vibrating guitar, go-go moves he wisely leaves to the experts.
My problem with Nights Out was with the song content that Metronomy's rave attitude masks. The adventures of the tracksuited young existentialist depicted on its sleeve as he stumbles through a night's provincial clubbing never engages, or escapes Mike Skinner's superior spectre. The futile journeys of "Back on the Motorway", and the deep ennui of "On Dancefloors", where "hearing is getting me down", don't convince any more live. But where this would be fatal for, say, Arctic Monkeys, these lyrics are just a way in for Metronomy's more indie-minded fans. They aren't the focus tonight, where the polite white light and heat of the light-show covers all sins.
There is some musical flair. The bass-lines flow like a slicker New Order and a melodica is lowered like a ceremonial snake, and blown like a Balkan accordion. "Radio Ladio" is introduced as "one for the ladies", and its choruses punch home ruthlessly. "You Could Easily Have Me" ends events with the sound of a swift, subaquatic apocalypse. Some file out to a real club. Others go home satisfied by Metronomy's perky, insubstantial hybrid.
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