Metronomy

Ok, ok, ok. So I’m about 10 minutes late. I gather this because as I’m walking closer to the Hare and Hounds I hear a soft rumble of bass from over a street away. It seems as though Seams has already started his set.

Seams

Solo artist Seams otherwise known as Jami Welch spends the entirety of his half hour slot slumped, head bobbing over the ubiquitous MacBook Pro and electrical thingy sporting a proud ensemble of knobs, buttons and probably flashing lights too. Despite the lack of real instruments I like what I’m hearing. I make no bones about my fondness for pretty much anything electronic. Although I do draw the line at Scooter and P-Diddy (Diddy might not be ‘electronic’ but a line should always be drawn under him anyway).

Seams

I couldn’t even begin to pigeonhole the style of organic electro being pumped out. The bass is deep but not overly punchy, at times the notes carry an almost mystical magical tone. Above everything else the atmospheric sound is good enough for you to not have to be off your tits to make the most of it. ‘Seams’ set summed up perfectly by my other half. “You could listen as soon as you woke up, listen again just before heading out for a big night. And still have Seams as the soundtrack to a good night out”. Needless to say ‘Seams’ started the night perfectly.

Seams

Metronomy first caught my attention shortly after the release of their debut album ‘Pip Paine (Pay Back The £5000 You Owe)”. I instantly formed a long lasting fondness for the mish-mash of electro-synth sprinkled with guitar fuzz, funky beats and pop chic. After the release of the second album ‘Nights Out’ I considered Metronomy to be one of England’s best kept secrets. Improving rapidly yet keeping true to their raw eclectic electro roots. So being quite aware of what Metronomy are all about I really am struggling with this evenings second support band Connan Mockasin.

Connan Mockasin

Connan Mockasin… Hmmm, one song in and I can’t quite figure where and how they fit in tonight’s lineup. Granted they maybe the filling in the sandwich but that seems to be about all. I suppose describing them as, ‘Art house Psychedelic Lounge Music’ seems quite fitting. As I listen to the band and the audience reaction, my mind begins to drift… I dream about a pair of comfy well-worn moccasins. The kind of old comfy, battered moccasins you’d wear around the house on a wet Sunday when your plans for a full on day of fun and adventure are thwarted by crap weather. Leaving you house bound with nothing but the smell of freshly laundered clothes drying and a Black and White movie for stimulation. Sounds boring does it not? I’m certain there’s an audience for Connan Mockasin but sadly not tonight.

Connan Mockasin

What I’m struggling to comprehend is how a band can play an almost entire set of downbeat stoner music and yet be capable of playing something the audience could relate to but choosing not to. Every now and then there were moments when the tempo was lifted, a head nodding drumbeat produced and a feeling that something good might finally happen. And like every bad experience encountered; drugs, sex, public transport you’ve a hoping things might get better but they rarely do. So with a mild round of applause, more out of embarrassed sorrow it appeared Connan Moccasin leave the stage.

Connan Mockasin

Tonight will be the second time I’ve watched and reviewed Metronomy.

Metronomy

In May 2008 I loved the rawness of the sound, how they sound better live than recorded and the masses of discrete humor. Back in 2008 ‘Metronomy’ were a band very much in their infancy. Tonight, the single element that strikes me most is how much cleaner they sound. The sound punchier and they play with more attack. As a band they seem much more polished and have definitely matured. Although thankfully the touch lights and overall quirkiness are still in full effect. It’s a strange sensation watching them play, I find myself standing, observing and listening with a cheeky grin and a knowing smirk.

Metronomy

But, the more I listen the more I find myself focusing on the past. Remembering previous albums and the previous gig. How I remember their signature sound as one of raw, bedroom orchestrated synth riffs. It’s seems hard and unjust of me to write about a band who’ve improved massively and use negative words, But I can’t help feeling as though the magic that once was ‘Metronomy’ is lost. On this evening at least.
Their set is a perfect mix of songs from the two released studio albums, the EP ‘Not Made For Love’ and the forth-coming album ‘The English Riviera’. Third song of the set ‘She Wants’ seems further evident of the band moving in a more mature direction. The signature synth sounds are much less prominent, replaced with more structured use of the guitar and bass, leaving Joseph Mounts vocal sounding more soulful and meaningful than ever.

Metronomy

Typically the humorous anecdotes were still very much in evidence, although I sadly missed most of these as my newly found gig friend (very lost and seemingly very drunken man who appeared to have just wondered in off the street) found the quiet moments in the set to ask me about the band, the music genre and discuss at some length why Devon isn’t actually in Wales.

As for set highlights ‘What Do I Do Now’ still sounds amazing live. The trippy intro builds and builds before Joseph’s voice obliterated by a vocoder takes over. ‘The End Of You Too’ brought bang up to date with crashing guitars and bass breaks. The sound is exactly like the Metronomy of old; mad, seemingly unstructured and overly theatrical – perfect. The opening bars of ‘A Thing For Me’ sound as though the synths have gone down an octave or two, there are masses more bass keeping your beer infused belly entertained. Also impressive is bassist Gbenga Adelkan singing the Falsetto high notes pitch perfect.

Metronomy

As for an encore, in the words of Joseph “As it is a Sunday night and everybody’s probably tired. So assuming it’s OK with you we’ll just stay put and not bother with the encore”. The ahem… encore consisted of just two songs. The first being another new unknown track and finally finishing just ahead of the enforced curfew with ‘Radio Ladio’.

I’ve found it difficult in summing up Metronomy and this gig in particular. There are many elements I love about the band, the music for a start, the videos, and the general quirkiness. It’s still all there when they play live, only the rawness I remember from that early gig and the first two albums seems to have eroded and been replaced by a more polished group developing a more mature sound. Will I be buying ‘The English Riviera’ when it’s eventually released? Of course! But that’s pretty much a given anyway…

Metronomy

Words by Lee Hathaway, email Lee.
Photos by Wayne Fox, email Wayne.

One Response to “Metronomy + Connan Mockasin + Seams @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 23rd January 2011”

  1. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » 2011 Barclaycard Mercury Prize ‘Albums of the Year’ Says:

    […] Metronomy ‘The English Riviera’ ‘The English Riviera’, Metronomy’s third album, was released by Because Music in April 2011. It was written and produced by the band’s Joseph Mount, originally from Totnes, Devon. The album, recorded in London and Paris, features the singles ‘She Wants’, ‘The Look’ and ‘The Bay’. ‘A beautifully realised electro-pop dream about growing up on an imagined English Riviera – sparkling, sophisticated and full of intrigue’ […]

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