For a UK band who have just released their fourth album to have never played a gig in Ireland is a little strange. Festival appearances aside, this is precisely what Metronomy remedied in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre and not to over-egg the batter, it was worth waiting for. Unless we’re talking about hermetic musical titans or a particularly hyped band du jour, festivals only rarely assuage the appetite of fans when it comes to staging, setlists, or most things. So whatever the “political” reasons for their evasive touring strategy alluded to by frontman Joseph Mount, seeing and hearing them ‘for real’ was a treat.
This is the first night of their current tour and Love Letters, the follow up to 2011’s The English Riviera, has been faring well … in the two days since its release. Despite some heavy hitters early on, including ‘She Wants’ and ‘The Look’, it’s a slow enough start but this has nothing to do with the band’s playing. Four albums, sufficient road time and immaculate instrumentation ensure that this band is essentially flawless at their job. Instead, it’s the crowd who take their time to warm up; but when they do the atmosphere leaps from expectant to ecstatic with as much grace as the band display. Anna Prior’s understated drumming and the faux-slap and pop resonance of Gbenga Adelekan’s bass sound incredible and are brought to the fore during ‘Boy Racers’. It is no reflection on Mount’s vocal abilities but Metronomy’s instrumentals are nothing short of wonderous and never feel like fillers.
‘I’m Aquarius’ sees the drums and bass cast aside as Prior and Adelekan join the flanking keyboardists behind their pulpits and it draws attention to just how aesthetically striking Metronomy are. It really shouldn’t matter, arguably it doesn’t, but they are such spectacles – individually and collectively – that seeing them perform without their matching uniforms, foppish dancing and fey mannerisms would probably diminish the show by a critical amount. The pastel colours, cheesy lighting and white trousers work so well for them that, again, their own shows as opposed to festival appearances beg to be witnessed.
‘Heartbraker’ and ‘The Bay’ seem to grab you and sway you from side to side as if trying to keep up with Adelekan’s dancing and ‘Corine’ does what it always does and puts some roughage into the mix. Before returning for an encore, Mount once again makes reference to their dearth of Irish tour dates and repeatedly insists that they will be back. He intimates, albeit facetiously, that having to suffer through repeated episodes of The Jeremy Kyle Show at the ferry captain’s behest may have played a part but in all fairness, who can blame him. A so-so encore brings Metronomy’s Irish debut proper to a close and if, IF, after four albums the band have reached some kind of zenith, we all can feel as if we’ve missed out on some incredible gigs. This is a great band, this was a great gig and here is one person hoping they’re back sooner rather than later.
Image by Isobel Thomas.