Live Review: Metronomy, Circa Waves

4 August 2014 | 4:21 pm | Chris AJ Coulter

Metronomy need to let loose to really hit the mark

More Metronomy More Metronomy

Circa Waves were up first, and although they showed potential, they made a melodic if ultimately fairly forgettable guitar-driven racket that conjured up a rather uncomfortable blend of The Kooks and The Pigeon Detectives.

No doubt Circa Waves might yet strike it rich soundtracking the intro music to some righteous teen drama or with a jingle for a travel agency punting round-the-world tickets to disillusioned university graduates.

Metronomy slunk onto the Metro stage awash in pastel pink and blue hues, the elaborate mini podiums surrounding their many keyboards offering a sense of drama and spectacle akin to the orchestra pit at the theatre.

Things got off to a slow start with the opening two songs, both from the new album, being synth-led and somewhat slow burners. The rhythm section eventually got a look in during song three, The Bay. Olugbenga Adelekan’s lackadaisical bass style lollops along a good half beat behind the rest of the band offering a refreshingly organic counterpoint to all of the electronic noodling. It’s worth noting that the songs drawing the biggest crowd reactions stemmed from previous album, The English Riviera. That’s not to say that the newer material isn’t any good; it just seemed to lack some of the urgency of their older tunes.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

The most recent album’s titular track, Love Letters proved a high point but even here it felt like opportunities were missed. On record the song is notable for its use of a horn section during the instrumental intro and finishing coda. They didn’t quite manage to effectively recreate this live. For one, it was left to live band member Michael Lovett and a single keyboard to fill out the entirety of the instrumental section. Metronomy, you’re on your fourth album – just rope in the horn section for your live show! What should have been either a faithful recreation of the record or an all-out synth-led, electronic freak-out became a fairly insipid brush over in favour of getting swiftly onto the next song.

Everything Goes My Way, which is a perfect gem of a pop song on record, failed to quite live up to its potential. Anna Prior’s vocals seemed drowned from behind her drum kit. Still a great chorus, though.

Ever the quintessentially ‘English pop band’, Metronomy seemed almost stifled by themselves for much of the gig.

Ever the quintessentially ‘English pop band’, Metronomy seemed almost stifled by themselves for much of the gig, never truly able to open up. They may be renowned for their quirky, eccentric sets but by the fourth album one would expect a little more pop polish from a band. On the rare occasions that they did let loose, on The Look or Reservoir for example, they really shone – tight keyboard lines, supple bass work and simple but effective drumming. They’ve come a long way from three awkward white guys trapped behind vintage Casio keyboards; now all they have to do is lose the self-consciousness and not be afraid to dream a little bigger.