If Metronomy’s primary lyrical concern is the closed-mindedness of the parochially trapped and entrapping, then music, their music, is the escape route. Even as the protagonists in songs like ‘The Look’ and ‘Corinne’ turn their woes over and over without resolution, the music tears off in a direction that is positively liberating. The synth solo that lights up ‘The Look’ is apparently very similar to the music in the Mega Drive classic Revenge of Shinobi, specifically the level with the sexy ninja nuns. And though this might seem frivolous, computer games are a form of escapism, and escape is precisely what the inhabitants of the bay do not have, if the notion occurs to them at all. Metronomy are, in essence then, the complete package. A band that outwardly poses conundrums that they solve with the unbounded creativity of their music. The bay is a Gordian Knott, and the music a sword.

And this is why we are here tonight, to see the British band of the moment. There’s a real sense of momentum about them, Metronomy are going places. They know it, we know it, and it’s born out by a tightening of the control of their image. The trademark maroon jackets and the glowing instruments are a conscious effort to turn the band into a brand. Their music is already unmistakable, and they want their image to be the same. It’s savvy, but crucially they’re not selling out, and that, as our reviewer Lloyd Bent pointed out in his review of their latest album Love Letters (see here), is the key. Metronomy are achieving success without getting rid of “that intangible thing that makes them distinctly and exclusively that band”. Most importantly, this is the best time to see any band, when they are approaching their maximum velocity. This is all born out by the fact that it’s the latest singles ‘I Am Aquarius’ and especially ‘Love Letters’ that are received the most emphatically.

There’s an oppressiveness to their music on record that is replaced by a dancy liveliness live. ‘I Am Aquarius’ is originally desperate, but positively groovy tonight, and the northern soul of ‘Love Letters’ sees the sprung dance floor pushed to its limits.

Tonight’s performance is also a solid reminder of the breadth, depth and unremitting quality of their music. Perhaps that’s partly because it’s a fairly short set, we’re out before 10:30pm so no time for filler, but it’s also a reminder of the positivity that comes from all the negativity.

For me it’s the best of The English Riviera that thrills the most. ‘The Look’ is good of course, but the zany danciness of ‘Corinne’ is thrilling, and ‘The Bay’, which closes the set before the encore, is universally appreciated.

On the rare occasions that he does address the audience, singer Joe Mount comes across as a fairly likeable, down to earth, if hesitant, front man. There’s an amusing moment where he seems to be about to slag off his first gig in Manchester, at The Night & Day, which, for those of you that don’t know, was recently threatened with closure because someone moved in above and complained about the noise. Doh! The audience cheers at the venue’s name and Mount realises that he cannot finish his story so he tales off into something else.

Elsewhere, ‘The Hours’ and ‘The Upsetter’ are both high points, and ‘The Most Immaculate Haircut’ is an oddly sardonic encore, and also a misstep. Why not finish on something more emphatic and less sarcastic? Perhaps it’s fitting that Metronomy should leave a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, but looking back, two days later, all I can think about is the sweetness of the show, and just how great it was to see a band at the height of their powers.

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Chris Gilliver

I started out writing for the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist back in 2008. The idea that I would be given free access to music and gigs seemed somehow miraculous to me, and I proceeded to take full advantage of the situation. When the M.E.N. decided to constrict its coverage to only the very biggest bands, Simon Poole approached me with a plan to make sure that all the very talented musicians of this world that pass through and/or live in Manchester would not go unnoticed. As the New Releases editor here at Silent Radio Towers, it remains my proud duty to cast a critical eye over the music and reviews that come my way in a manner that is both supportive and fair. Above all, I strive to write as entertainingly possible. Favourite musicians include the Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mercury Rev, Os Mutantes, The Knife, Beach House etc etc. I'm a firm believer that all genres (except nu-metal) contain music of great quality...