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Joseph Mount‘s bedroom dreams had become actualised as five effortlessly stylish silhouettes walked onto the Forum stage and perched themselves atop pink and blue neon clouds. From humble beginnings as a collegiate daydream that sprung from a room in Mounts’ parents’ house, Metronomy was now a fleshed-out musical unit that not only looked as though they belonged on the stage, but gazed upon a Melbourne crowd with silent confidence about just where to take their palpable excitement.
“Good evening, Melbourne. We’re Metronomy, we’re from En-guh-land. Nice to be with you in this very attractive venue,” said Mount, as he rolled into the hypnotic opening chords of The Look, triggering an instant response from the audience. Bodies began to move before even a hint of something to move to. By the time Olugbenga Adelekan‘s bass rang out (a single note that elicited an unmistakable anticipation in the crowd), they teared into a frenzy, plastering smiles on the faces of the band members.
It quickly became evident that in this band, Mount plays the role of the reluctant frontman. If anything, he’s more of a bandleader. He mans the torchlight as the rest of the band navigate through the darkness of the moody She Wants, before slipping offstage to let Adelekan, drummer Anna Prior, and sprightly multi-instrumentalist Oscar Cash wow with a lively rendition of Boy Racers. While on the band’s most recent outing, Love Letters, it plays like a muffled Giorgio Moroder soundtrack cut, live it’s an infectious slice of unsullied funk that the band instil with verve and deft musicianship.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Metronomy’s live performances, and indeed of the band itself, is how they treat genre and style as toys that can be picked up, played with, and then set down once again. No one sound metastasises into an inescapable albatross, each is something to explore and have fun with, and boy do they.
Clad in uniforms of navy blue shirts and white khakis, the Metronomy unit toyed with the creep funk of the Yello-like Radio Ladio, the R&B impressionism of I’m Aquarius, a rendition of Month of Sundays that came right out of the psych garage playbook, and a beefed-up Love Letters that waded cautiously into the nostalgic territory that Daft Punk recently claimed as their own.
The band’s mercurial spirit saw them switching up arrangements with every change in lighting. As the cartoonish, Super Mario-like clouds that floated behind the band turned to a blood red hue, Prior shuffled over to Cash’s station to helm a sequencer, while Adelekan moved to man a synth flanking the drum kit. Positioned symmetrically about the stage, the bubbling percussion and campfire guitar of The Upsetter momentarily subdued an audience that up to that point had been dancing ceaselessly.
After Cash lead a rendition of Box Codax‘s Naked Smile, whose lyrics like, “All that matters is your naked body / All that matters is your naked smile”, coming from the boyish, runty Cash extorted a wince or two from members of the crowd, the band soon departed from the stage, leaving only the muted blue lights that swam beneath the drum kit and the three keyboards.
A groundswell of chugging feet and loud applause soon carried them back onto the stage for an encore that featured a propulsive, dirty performance of You Could Easily Have Me that had an entranced crowd in the grips of frenzy once again. As the sweaty, delighted mass retreated from the Forum into the Melbourne winter, one was left to wonder if Mount ever envisioned his bedroom dreams bringing joy to so many people?
Metronomy will play Splendour In The Grass 2014 this weekend. They will conclude their headline tour dates at the Metro Theatre on Monday, 28th July – full details here.
Image: Metronomy Live At The Forum Melbourne, 2014 / Photo: Nikki Williams