Metronomy, Connan Mockasin, Get People

Holly Cruise 19/01/2011

Rating: 4/5

Let it be said right here and right now, there is no excuse at all under any circumstances for bands to be dull onstage. Case in point, three years ago Metronomy played the Roadhouse, essentially an underground pub with good taste in music, before the release of their indie-kid pleasing second album, Nights Out. Each of the three members took to the stage with a battery powered button light each ( pinned to their shirts. What followed was a perfectly coordinated routine of lights going on and off, tapped in time to the music whenever each member had a hand free from the variety of wonky synths, guitars and saxes in front of them. For the whole gig.

And now, three years later, in the Deaf Institute, essentially someone's living room, supersized to hold 200 people and an excellent band every night, Metronomy have a chance to show off their new, super-sized budget... Ish. Now a (wow) four piece having incorporated a live drummer, each member still has a chest light, only this time the lights were operated by unseen offstage forces, cables trailing down each member's back and off into unknown locations. It's not exactly Lady Gaga firing flames from her Gaga-boobs, but it's the result of having slightly more than 10 to spend on your stage show. No charm is lost however, the coordinated dance moves still break down occasionally (largely down to Joe Mount having a little guitar trouble), the chest-lights still pop on and off at all the most obvious moments (which only makes them better), and the songs are still endearingly shonky slices of indie-synth-funk, like if Prince was a poor, 10s student, rather than an 80s sex-fiend from outer space.

The minimalism was balanced out by a little maximalism from the supports. First on were Get People who came across like a slightly more chillwave Friendly Fires dressed by Hot Chip. Alas, they never really sparked. Having the (tiny) stage dominated by a massive (really massive) set of congas is visually arresting but when you use them as part of a percussion workout at the end of your second song, do it for longer than ten seconds. Anyone who has seen the aforementioned Friendly Fires doing the outro to 'Jump In The Pool', or Doves doing 'There Goes The Fear', will know what a proper 'let's go mental with percussion' outro should look and sound like. Still, one of them played a pineapple shaped shaker at one point, which surely must fit into the cheap prop done well category.

Next up, Connan Mockasin was maxing out on the songs. Apparently the lovechild of Boris Johnson and Austin Powers, only with the voice of Tim Booth from James, Connan and his band were possibly a little out of place, if only because their place couldn't possibly be anywhere other than a groovy happening in late-60s London. Organs parped like 'Whiter Shade Of Pale', guitars twanged like George Harrison's every mystic dream and during the epic last track there were tempo changes, “aaah-ing” instead of singing and the feeling that I was finally listening to what my mother spent the late 60s/early 70s listening to.

Back in the land of shonky synth-indie-pop-funk, Metronomy and their flashing chest-lights were demonstrating a muscularity which gives their sound something which it slightly lacked on record previously. Anna Prior's drumming and Gbenga Adelekan's bass drive forward Mount and Oscar Cash's synthy/guitar/sax sound collages, even if Adelekan lets the side down slightly by looking absurdly and effortlessly cool rather than geeky as hell. The pop gems from Nights Out suit their beefy, thunderous incarnations - 'Heart Rate Rapid', 'A Thing For Me', and the shout-a-long 'Radio Ladio' are greeted with whoops and screams, the latter even gets a bout of what passes for moshing in a crowd where more than 50% of its members are wearing glasses (including yours truly). The new songs are in a similar vein, like old Metronomy but bigger and buffer, one is even a borderline punk guitar thrash, albeit with a buzzing keyboard over the top. It doesn't sound like there has been a radical overhaul of the sound, just a continuing increase in the amount of muscle available. Just as the new songs all have their own light show to go with them, it's hard to argue they don't already sound like they belong in the set. Who knows if any new converts will be made this year, but by the looks of it Metronomy are coming for those who are just a little fed up with the impossibly perfect sound assaulting the charts. Pop with heart, real funk and a tinny synth rather than a billion pound Protools studio? Follow the (Poundland) light.