LIVE REVIEW: Metronomy, Hak Baker @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle (24.04.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Metronomy by Alex Lambert

Metronomy, the working man’s Arcade Fire. Listening to the band’s discography, you’ll discover some of the best indie and synth pop bangers, scattered amongst by-the-numbers album fillers.

They’re a band in which the argument could be made that they peaked in the studio 10 years ago with The English Riviera, and the group’s newest album solidified this opinion of mine, as 2022’s Small World has been one of the safest albums by the band.

So, I have to admit that my expectations were not as high as they should’ve been, and the support didn’t exactly shatter them either. London’s Hak Baker strutted on stage and projected singer-songwriter ballads over an electric guitar. It was an interesting mix, and I thought his writing was especially good, having a knack for storytelling and conveying intimate feelings within the semantics of his writing and tackling grief straight on. However, an electric guitar can only take you so far, and his set would’ve benefited so much from a bit of variety.

Metronomy hiked onto the stage and burst into their opening song, Love Factory, a track from their newest album. The difference between the flat and safe production of their studio versions was immediate, and the band performing live was crystal clear. The song had life, it was bouncy, people were already dancing. It was like someone had held down the words ‘indie pop’ and injected it with a syringe filled with ‘dance pop’.

There was little time for chat as they ploughed through their 20-song set list. The momentum never dropped, but their personality was somewhat lacking.

The more indie-tronica tracks, having a huge emphasis on the lead synth, had people clapping to the beat. Singalongs were most strident for the springy Corinne from album The English Riviera, and the chorus of the incredibly electronic Reservoir from Love Letter, with its beeps and boops.

Instrumental tracks Boy Racers and The End of You Too built off the momentum of the previous songs; presented as if they were club-like bangers, their incredible groove, thundering bass and loud bass-driven drums made for the highlight of the set – all I could think while bouncing up and down was “this is Metronomy?!”

The incredibly catchy synth lead of The Look rippled throughout the room, sounding greater in scale than the studio counterpart, never deviating from the main melody but bringing the funky bass to the fore. It felt less as the song I’d come to know, and more like a spectacle, as the band showed off how talented they truly are.

Metronomy’s live show was a pleasant surprise. In a live context they sound sonically fresh, the energy of their songs fit perfectly and having so many die-hard fans in the audience just elevated the vibes even further. This is possibly the best way to experience this band, not through headphones, but in the middle of a crowd.

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