LIVE REVIEW: Metronomy @ The Institute, Birmingham (21/03/2014)
It’s a familiar scene: It’s Friday night. Birmingham Institute. Sell-out crowd. The alcohol has been flowing and people want a boogie. A misjudged set-list here and the crowd could turn as miserable as drizzle.
Yet with recent LP ‘Love Letters’, Metronomy have declared their commercial honeymoon over. This time around, the blue skies and sun-kissed textures of the Mercury nominated ‘English Riviera’ have clouded over on an altogether shadier offering.
“This might be the last time we dance here” sighed Jo Mount during “Monstrous”, looking like a depressed Bee-Gee in the band’s snazzy polo-neck, maroon blazer and chino combo uniforms. Despite its phantom gameboy synth-line being reminiscent of joyful button bashing, as an opener it certainly didn’t push any buttons with the audience. The band responded to the disengagement with “Month of Sundays” followed by current eponymous single “Love Letters”, unfortunately delivering both with compensatory gusto but sans tunefulness.
Despite the eyebrow-raising start though, even the most well-oiled punter felt their body convulse as “The Look” enlivened the crowd and enriched the atmosphere with its mandatory “do-do-do” accompaniments. An outing of the ear-worm chorus of “Corinne”, the big-bass funk of “The Bay”, and a disco-stomping “Radio Ladio” eventually shone through.
And therein lay the gig’s downfall. So vibrant were the older songs live that the ‘Love Letters’ material felt left out in the cold, under-rehearsed and underwhelming. Only the electro-clout of instrumental “Boy Racers” into “Call Me” made a solid case for the new material live, whereas the awe-striking “The Reservoir”, was arguably highlight of the set. Collectively these were convincing enough to command you to return to the LP later. Just.
The encore seemed to encapuslate the set perfectly. An ‘English Rivera’ one (“Some Written”) and a big hit (“Heartbreaker”) to rapturous reception, before finally bowing out with a slightly limp and somewhat misplaced outing of tender new ballad: “The Most Immaculate Haircut”.
Whilst it’s always great to see a band play their new album live and especially one as good as ‘Love Letters’, the crowd tonight just weren’t ready to take off their beer-jackets to its cooler climes. Until they spread the same live warmth into their newer material, many a frosty reception may await them yet.