Gig Review and Photography by John Bentley

Metronomy, Manchester Ritz, 14-2-14

Manchester’s Ritz is sold out tonight for the much anticipated gig by arty electro-popsters Metronomy, in the early stages of their UK tour and eager to promote their acclaimed new album, ‘Love Letters’.

The Proper Ornaments, Manchester Ritz, 14-2-14

Support band is The Proper Ornaments, who include James Hoare, guitarist with Veronica Falls. They play a polished and well-received set of short, melodic songs, with two and three part vocal harmonies and chugging jangly guitars that particularly brings to mind The Byrds and Teenage Fanclub.

Metronomy, Manchester Ritz, 14-2-14

The audience is as mixed, as they come tonight, with everyone from teenagers to senior citizens ready to sample old favourites and the new stuff from Metronomy. I even spot Radio 6 DJ Marc Riley, who’s been a big supporter of the band, up near the front and chatting to punters. Metronomy seem to be one of those bands that offers something for everyone, remaining fresh and innovative, while churning out some amazing pop tunes, like the incredibly catchy ‘Love Letters’ from the new album.

Metronomy, Manchester Ritz, 14-2-14

The arty stage set and lighting seem to signify that this is a confident band with a defined style and identity. The stage has a kind of seaside Art Deco look, with the keyboards in streamlined (and sometimes flashing) consoles reminiscent of a 1930s Flash Gordon sci-fi film set. This very English band are smartly dressed in white trousers and maroon blazers. Band leader Joseph Mount starts off on the piano, playing the baroque-sounding ‘Monstrous’, the first of a run of three songs from the new album.

Metronomy, Manchester Ritz, 14-2-14

Most of the audience probably haven’t heard this new material before, as the album has only been released this very week. But things seem to click, when the third song is the kick-ass new single ‘Love Letters’. That’s followed by old favourite ‘The Look’, from the band’s breakthrough 2011 album, ‘The English Riviera’, and after that the evening is really flying along. Whereas the ‘Riviera’ album had a very light airy touch, sounding almost like an art-house film score, the new material seems heavier and more diverse, bringing in all sorts of influences, including 60s pop and rock, psychedelia, soul, funk. There’s notably more guitar, such as on the track, ‘Month of Sundays’, which sounds a little like 60s band, Love. Nevertheless it’s still the amazing floating synth sound that defines the band.

Metronomy, Manchester Ritz, 14-2-14

Metronomy grip our attention for the duration of the diverse hour and a half set. The gig features most of the new album and, inevitably, chunks of the highly popular ‘Riviera’ set. Plus selections from 2008’s ‘Nights Out’. There are a couple of instrumentals, including the new, Daft Punk-like, ‘Boy Racers’, during which Mount departs the stage leaving the others to play. While Mount is the main vocalist, drummer Anna Prior also contributes some nice singing, particularly on the call and response ‘Everything Goes My Way’. For new songs ‘Aquarius’ and ‘Reservoir’, Mount sings upfront from his keyboards while the other four band members sing backing vocals in two pairs behind the rear consoles, giving a real 1960s singing group feel.

Metronomy, Manchester Ritz, 14-2-14

Things get very funky towards the end with some great bass guitar playing by Olugbenga Adelekan on songs ‘The Bay’ and ‘Heartbreaker’. “Thanks, Manchester. It’s always a pleasure”, says Mount to the highly appreciative crowd. And thanks Metronomy – it’s been a real pleasure to see such an interesting and innovative band on such top form.

Setlist: Monstrous; A Month of Sundays; Love Letters; The Look; She Wants; Boy Racers; Call Me; Holiday; Radio Ladio; Everything Goes My Way; I’m Aquarius, Reservoir; Side 2; Corinne; The Upsetter; The Bay. Encore: Some Written; Heartbreaker; The Most Immaculate Haircut.

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