In layman's terms: A blog about music, by Luke Slater and James Welbourn.

5 July 2008

Metronomy @ Bedford Esquires

Metronomy @ Bedford Esquires, Thu. 5th June
Recreating the sound of electronica live can go two ways: it can either be enhanced to the point of euphoria, where the audience, performers and venue become one in beautiful musical bliss, or the intricacies and nuances which are so pronounced on record can never be recalled live, leaving a very hollow feeling.

There is, as per usual, absolutely nothing doing with the support acts, who range from mildly mediocre to decidedly desperate. It would, however, be a massive crime not to include a few words on the two-piece electro-emo outfit Dream Sequence, who are, quite easily, the worst thing to permeate my eardrums since some Frenchman stitched a cat to his shoulder last year and became an entry for Eurovision. They sort of sound like Linkin Park vs Jay Z on Collision Course, but infinitely worse, indescribably so. Included tonight: an epically emo-tinged cover of Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’, several amusingly unfortunate crashes of the laptop (take note: when this happens 20 seconds in, it’s probably a sign), an Ibiza emo-dance ‘anthem’ and the peculiar sight of the lead singer seemingly trying to lose his sight by staring into the stage lights pre-performance. Absolutely bizarre…

Metronomy live are a different proposition to Metronomy on record. Utilising a more conventional set-up than might be imagined - guitar, bass, saxophone and melodica, as well as the more expected plethora of FX, drum machines and, naturally, a laptop. Poorly choreographed hand salutes and what could be very loosely termed as dance moves make an appearance; they aren’t entirely necessary, much like the push lights which hang from their necks over black t-shirts, but somehow, it works.

Showcasing as much material from 2006’s Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe) as from their soon-to-be-released full length Nights Out, Metronomy can sometimes sound like a hotchpotch of unusual effects and beats thrown together arbitrarily, slightly reminiscent instrumentally of Devo; but when it all fits together, which is by no means all the time, it just sounds right. This much is blindingly obvious from the off when ‘My Heart Rate Rapid’ opens, metronomically enough, at 130bpm or so with a brilliantly casual bassline pitched against ear-piercingly sharp synthesised wails. On ‘Radio Ladio’ Joseph Mount’s vocals are the epitome of laidback cool, and it’s safe to say there can’t be much which sounds so cheap and yet so great, before things take a turn into Nintendo-nightmare land with ‘Let’s Have A Party’; cue much rigid, robotic move-busting from Metronomy’s mainman, Mr Mount.

The barrage of effects, processed vocals and countless other phasers and sequencers (which often sounds like several ‘80s sci-fi soundtracks all playing in unison) can be a tad overwhelming and faintly repetitive at times, leading to a sense of sonic confusion, but a welcome change of tone and pace is offered by the melodica-led ‘Black Eye/Burnt Thumb’ and the Kraftwerk-like ‘Back On The Motorway’. Those present are teased into near electro orgasm by a thumping and vigorous rendition of the punky, power-chord driven ‘Roobard and Custard’ theme tune-esque ‘You Could Easily Have Me’. Cue even more robotic dancing, this time from the adoring revellers.

Sure enough, Pip Paine… might have been inconsistently good, with not enough emphasis on the melodic, but in the flesh Metronomy provide a soundtrack which overwhelms, and places you within the music, actually feeling it rather than simply hearing it.


[Taken from Drowned In Sound]

No comments: