Beginning life as a small solo project in frontman Joseph Mount’s teenage bedroom, METRONOMY have come along way over the last decade and the contrast between the band’s original form and where the four-piece is now can be seen and heard in almost every aspect of tonight’s performance.
The excellent NZCA LINES are first on stage and while this particular project is largely the brainchild of Londoner Michael Lovett, he is joined by two other musicians, a drummer and a guitarist, with the latter doubling up on keyboards.
Under the moniker of NZCA LINES, Lovett traverses musical terrain similar to that of bands like CHVRCHES and Manchester’s Y.O.U, his songs leading the audience into a carefully constructed web of icy synthpop and electronica that is uplifting, lyrically intelligent and at times hauntingly beautiful.
With an excellent balance between his poignantly quieter moments and almost danceable instrumentals, the set is enhanced with a simple but effective lightshow and is the perfect warm-up for tonight’s headliners.
METRONOMY appear on stage immaculate in matching white suits, the recent tours, in support of their fourth album Love Letters, being notable for the band’s new and striking dress sense, a change from the more casual outfits of previous years.
Their fashion sense isn’t the only thing that’s changed recently though, and Love Letters, the album from which much of tonight’s material is drawn, showcases a distinctive new direction for the band, both lyrically and musically.
Opening with ‘Holiday’, a song from their second album, Nights Out, the band gives it a new lease of life and what was in the studio a somewhat inaccessible track, with an almost uncommitted vocal, becomes on stage a thrilling and celebratory anthem, an extended instrumental following the final breakdown sending the audience into a dancing frenzy.
However, the crowd is as delighted with the band’s newer material as it is with the older gems on offer and ‘I’m Aquarius’, with its distinctive backing vocals and hypnotically repetitive chorus, is a particular highpoint.
As well as powerful vocal performances from Mount on ‘Month of Sundays’ and ‘Love Letters’ itself, another highlight comes when Oscar Cash, normally relegated to keyboards and backing vocals, steps up to sing a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’, much to the delight of the audience, for whom he seems to be a particular favourite.
Finishing the night on ‘You Could Easily Have Me’, an explosive instrumental from their first album, METRONOMY deliver a set to please fans both old and new, returning to early material with the voice and sound of their most recent album and reminding us why they are currently one of the most exciting groups working within their genre.
Words: Malcolm Higgins
Photos: Stewart Fullerton