Live Review: Metronomy At The Royal Albert Hall - 3rd October 2011

After falling short to PJ Harvey in the run for the Mercury Music Prize, electro-pop indie group, Metronomy, didn't fail to bring the crowds to their debut at London's Royal Albert Hall, as one of the venue's Albert Sessions.

The English Riviera Tour, which started in frontman, Joseph Mount's hometown of Totnes, ended up at this very fitting venue and was a sold-out show. It was my first 'proper' gig at the venue, that wasn't a comedy show or a classical concert, so I was really interested to see whether they'd pull it off, and to be honest, I was more than impressed. The crowd were an interesting mix of thirty-something's city workers, trendy 'scene' muso's, middle aged couples.. and me. I fitted in somewhere between 'the third album owner', and someone who just longed for that live experience again.

The atmosphere was slowly building to the kind of anticipation that can only be felt in large crowds of people. Murmurs were increasing and occasional 'Whoops' were thrown out into the ether until the first of the support bands finally took to the stage. Arthur Beatrice were a pleasant surprise; a suitable support for a band who's niche can sometimes be hard to place. Django Django were the next up and really got the crowd going. Both were very much guitar/ electro music, but with the subtlety of beautiful harmonies intertwined with ethereal synths and rave-like beats.

By the time Metronomy came on at 9.30pm, the venue was brimming and buzzing. I couldn't stop looking around at the sheer grandeur of the building. The lights dimmed and on walked some sort of early music wind ensemble. There was a united 'what?', thought and muttered by the audience. The quartet performed a quaint, harmonised piece, interspersed by strange, horse-like foot stomping that was, for the most part, out of time. This breathy introduction lasted for about 15 minutes playing renditions of This Could Be Beautiful and Black Eye / Burnt Thumb, before we were shot back to reality, and Metronomy walked on to screams and cheers.

Metronomy performed material from all three of their albums, Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe), Nights Out, and the Mercury Prize nominated The English Riviera. Of course, some may scold me, but I came for their most recent album; ultimately a pop record balanced with snippets of genius vocal lines, hooks and melodies, spliced with bursts of funk and folk. Inspired by the west Country town of Totnes, the influences were definitely there, but at times struggled to come through in the live setting.

I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of warmth when the first small groups of people started getting up off their seats. It seemed that the infectious, danceable rhythms were just too much to resist. Gradually, the whole auditorium was rising in waves - something I found amazing in a venue that I'd so often experienced stuffiness and reservedness in. Mount, Cash, Adelekan and Prior didn't disappoint. Since the gig, I've heard phrases banded around saying that they "blew the roof" - and, I agree, to an extent.

The set included staples from previous albums, as well as current crowd-pleasers like The Look, She Wants, Love Underlined, Corinne, and a personal favourite of mine, The Bay. Metronomy pulled all the stops out last night, not only with their attire of hypnotising flashing chest lights, but former member, Gabriel Stebbing, appeared from the curtains on a higher-level tier to thrash out a 30-second guitar solo on Corinne- largely unnecessary but delightfully showy.

The Look - a fairground-like, seaside-esque tune was catapulted back to the theatrical era of dance-halls and sophistication by keyboard player, Cash, who emerged from the wings being pushed along on some sort of portable organ car. Quite a sight, and something that was later revealed by singer, Mount, as his lifelong dream.

As far as live shows go, the energy or atmosphere never dwindled. Anna Prior, the female drummer, was dressed head to toe in a green, sparkly sequined cat suit and was an explosion of power, as well as a figure of admiration throughout the show. Bassist, Adelekan was the element of funk in the show, and his showmanship and command on the audience were clear as they all clapped with him during She Wants.

The diversity of repertoire made a normal Monday night a celebration of Mount's songwriting and creativity. It was a party atmosphere, there's no doubt about that. I was certainly swept along in the wave, but despite everything, with all the will in the world, I left the concert wishing I had liked the songs just that little bit more. Perhaps I was riding on the hype of their recent public exposure. Perhaps I just needed to listen to their material more beforehand!