I say guitars and synthesizers but let me applaud the standout player from Wednesday night, drummer Anna Prior. The sole woman in the group distinguished herself quite remarkably on the drums and the synthesizer with a winsome smile and playful grace. She even takes over lead vocals on the sunny and sweet song “Everything Goes My Way” from the band’s remarkable third album, The English Riveria. I’ve seen Metronomy previously but Ms. Prior stole the show for me last night.
Of course, everyone put on a great show, starting with band leader Joseph Mount. Looking dapper in the band’s coordinated white suits, Mount sang, swayed, played guitar and synthesizer and drums, and he generally seemed to be having a marvelous time doing it. Opening the set with “Holiday” from second album Nights Out, which got a lot of respect on this show, Mount led his touring quintet through a setlist that was very soulful without being too much and very electronic without being chirpy or bleepy. In other words, we experienced a band that truly sounded like everyone was contributing to the greater whole, and the result was just very good music with the occasional wry wink to the audience.
The wryness in some of the Metronomy lyrics show through when tackling subjects from heartbreak to style. Encore song “The Most Immaculate Haircut” from new album Love Letters plays with both topics but you cannot help but feel that Mount and company are thumbing their noses at pop culture a little bit.
Still, the band is at its most effective when it’s at its most earnest, as evidenced by the title track “Love Letters” of their fourth album. The poetic allusions of the lyrics, combined with some fierce playing by the band, producing an epic song that captures the group’s taste for nostalgic walks down memory lane while still sounding fresh and new. “Love Letters” also serves as a great vehicle for Mount’s excellent vocals; crisp and accented, he’s terrifically English in all of his sounds.
Of course, the rest of the band notably contribute backing vocals in most every song. Bassist Gbenga Adelekan and guitarist/keyboardist/saxophonist Oscar Cash provide some great harmonies, as does touring member Michael Lovett.
The entire band really looked sharp in addition to sounding sharp. As mentioned earlier, they appeared in matching white suits and black shirts (although Prior was in a simpler, all-white ensemble). Metronomy’s penchant for coordinating its look always makes them a very watchable band but at the same time it accentuates their sound with an oddly timeless aura. Depending on which aspects of the band you are watching or listening to, they sometimes seem like they could be a band from the 1960s or from the 2040s (in some idealized vision of what bands will look like in 25 years)!
The late hour of the show (doors opened at 10pm) proved a boon to opening act Dawn Golden (aka Dexter Tortoriello), who captivated a crowd who came out at the beginning with the understanding they weren’t able to take the metro train home a few hours later. Gentle laments like “Last Train” provided substantive material for the audience to digest, and undoubtedly won some fans. The no less grand, but slightly chirpier declaration of defiance “I Won’t Bend” gives you some slight clue that Dawn Golden is associated Diplo’s Mad Decent label; otherwise, his debut LP Still Life, released earlier this year sounds quite like any other Mad Decent artist I’ve heard before.
Metronomy appear in Brooklyn Friday and Boston Saturday before returning to the road in October for a sweep through Florida, Texas, California and other states. Take advantage of the opportunity to see them, as they are well worth seeing live!