Their latest LP, Summer 08, was less of a natural follow-up to the widely-acclaimed Love Letters, and more of a return to self-contained isolation for frontman Joe Mount.
He recorded the entire album himself – and what’s more was completely open about it – stripping away any pretence that Metronomy are a ‘band’ in the traditional sense of the word. In reality, they are far more of a vehicle for Mount’s bursts of creativity – not that you would glean any of this from seeing them perform live as a five-piece.
Mount and bassist Olugbenga Adelekan take up prime position down the front, while two synth players and drummer Anna Prior sit behind on a raised platform – their instruments visually masked by gleaming white partitions that make us feel a bit like we’re watching a band perform in the Apple store at the nearby Arndale Centre. It’s not exactly the rock ‘n’ roll revolution the UK is crying out for right now, but our toes remain tapping throughout.
The material from Summer 08 is assimilated nicely into the set, but to be honest it is still the hits from 2011 masterpiece The English Riviera that stand out as the real moments of brilliance.
The unmistakable effects on ‘The Bay’ can be heard vaguely twinkling as the band tune up – and those in the know are already unable to hide their euphoria before Mount and co. launch into it.
Having seen Metronomy on their last three album tours, this is one that does what it says on the tin – the hits are still there (apart from ‘Heartbreaker’, which slightly disappoints us) and the band know how to work a crowd with mass hand-claps and suspense-building drops.
However, in terms of artistic progression they are rather walking over the same old ground. Not that this does anything to quell the in-the-moment enthusiasm of a sold out Manchester crowd, with the likes of ‘Love Letters’ and ‘The Look’ whipping up a frenzied response.
Again slightly formulaic is the ceremonial pause for the inevitable encore, with Mount then returning to sit at the drum kit. They bow out with new one ‘Love’s Not An Obstacle’ before Prior returns to play the role of lead singer during the undeniably great ‘Everything Goes My Way’. Now that Metronomy’s journey to pop stardom has more than been realised, it will be interesting to see where they go next creatively, but tonight they have proved working a crowd to be second nature.