Yes, fear not, blog lovers, this blog isn’t actually dead!
I went to the O2 Academy to see Metronomy earlier this month. Now I’m afraid that this review may contain a litany of complaints – hopefully I won’t feel the need to whinge constantly in these blogs about people or things, but then surely there’s nothing wrong with an occasional moan. So, let’s start with an early grumble – the O2 Academy itself, or rather, gig venues that are sponsored and so change their names over the years. Which is a bit silly, like football grounds that change names, from the City of Manchester Stadium to the Etihad Stadium or, more laughably, from St. James’ Park to sportsdirect.com @ St James’ Park Stadium and then back again. Unlike the Geordies to be the laughing stock of football, of course…
Anyway, back to renamed gig venues. The O2 Academy was the Carling Academy when I first started going to it in 2006, though I have just realised that it is officially the O2 Academy, just to make things more ridiculous. An old favourite venue in London was the Astoria 2 that became the rather more silly LA2 in the mid-1990’s and was then completely rebranded as the Mean Fiddler, with the original Mean Fiddler in Harlesden taking over. Bands don’t tend to rebrand themselves from one year to the next (but I bet that will happen one of these days), though I do remember the 4-piece Wire changing their name to Wir when one of the original members left, which was at least slightly clever.
OK, back to the gig. Unfortunately, I missed the support act, The Proper Ornaments, a band I’ve heard being played on Marc Riley’s 6 Music show (a second mention for Mr Riley in two blogs!). But that was for a very good reason, as I was busy welcoming my stepmother for a weekend visit and having something nice to eat before heading out for the evening. A shame, though, as I think there’s a fair chance I might have enjoyed them more than the main event!
Still, I was in time for Metronomy, who came onto the stage pretty much on the dot of nine o’clock, all in matching outfits, like in the video for the title track off their new album, “Love Letters” (see below) – burgundy jackets, black shirts and white trousers. So far, so a little bit trying too hard. However, we had a double whammy of things I really can’t stand from the bassist at the start of “Love Letters” itself as she yelled out “alright Liverpool” (there was a lot of city name-checking from the band tonight which I always find slightly nauseating) and then started clapping over her head to get the crowd to clap along. Possibly my biggest pet hate at gigs is clapping along – and again there was a fair bit of that here, some directed by the band and even some more oddly generated solely by the audience. The bassist later came out with a “let’s go, Liverpool” about which words really fail me. She looked like she’d rather be playing in Prince’s band than her current group, not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Love Letters video:
As the band had come on nice and early, I was already starting to think it might finish early enough for me to squeeze in a pint afterwards and still have tons of time before the last train home. The whole show was just a bit slick for me, with the band sounding a bit indie-funk. Although that sounds like a horrendous prospect, it can be a wonderful thing – witness the wondrous Orange Juice.
Most of the set seemed to be from the new album, released earlier that week. Unfortunately, this brings up another pet peeve – bands going on tour just as an album is released so there isn’t really enough time to get to know the new songs before going to see them. In fact, at the time of writing I’m still waiting for my copy of the album to land on my doormat, so I’m not sure how much I like the new songs yet. Their previous LP, “The English Riviera”, their third one, was one of my favourites from 2011, so it was good to hear some of that live. “The Look” generated a mass singalong at the start, with a whole host of phone cameras whipped out – just for another minor annoyance!
As early as the sixth number we had a filler instrumental, “Boy Racers” (off the new album), during which main man Joseph Mount left the stage for a few minutes. Call me cynical, but the only reasons for leaving the stage for such a period of time like that are:
- You’re an old curmudgeon like The Fall’s Mark E. Smith who just likes to be awkward
- You a bit doddery and in need of medical attention, like Bobby Womack at the Phil earlier this year
- You need a bit of a pharmaceutical boost
However, as it only happened once, maybe I’m being harsh. And apparently he did the same in Manchester as well.
The band included the oddly popular former Lightspeed Champion drummer Anna Prior, who sang on the lovely “Everything Goes My Way”, filling in for Veronica Falls’ Roxanne Clifford. Unfortunately, that was followed for a duff instrumental that should have been left on a b-side. I was astounded to see someone holding an actual lighter aloft during this – an actual lit lighter that is. Needless to say, words fail me!
The final song was “The Bay”, one of the best tracks off “The English Riviera”, this time featuring a mass crowd-led clap-along. In order to encourage the band back on stage for an encore, there were spontaneous chants of “one more song, one more song”, which I found slightly odd.
So, overall I’d say this was the proverbial 6 out of 10 – not a bad gig, but certainly not as good as I’d hoped it would be.
Oh, and the gig finished early enough for a swift two pints in the Lion before catching the train home – and not even the last one!
No particularly good reason for tonight’s choice, but it was a Brian Eno “Another Green World” one, which is green, appropriately enough.