By Rob McLaren
“Glasgow, it’s Wednesday night,” Metronomy frontman Joseph Mount begins, as he thanks the crowd for coming, “which means it’s nearly the weekend. I wish we could come back and play then. Maybe we will next weekend.”
It was a speech highly befitting of Mount’s charisma: pertinent, modest, and charming. Some would say emotionless – they’d be wrong.
Being a rockstar was just never in Mount’s character. Metronomy was always his personal project, his prized possession. It was an ambition which began as nothing more than a wacky name, scribbled on a piece of paper in his childhood bedroom.
Eventually Mount would achieve his dream of releasing an album, and then another, building a small but dedicated following and receiving a sprinkling of critical praise along the way. He wasn’t playing to sold out crowds at Glastonbury; in fact, you’d be hard-pressed to hear a Metronomy song on the radio, but Mount didn’t care. He had turned his pet project into a career.
But then The English Riviera happened, and with it a string of impressive singles, notably ‘The Look’ and ‘The Bay’. Critics started taking notice. Festival organisers started picking up the phone. Suddenly, Metronomy had become a commercially viable, popular band – and Mount found himself the frontman.
At first glance, one is tempted to paint Joe Mount as a younger, English compatriot of the great James Murphy, of LCD Soundsystem fame. Both are scruffy, seldom clean-shaven. Each became synonymous with iconic electronic bands borne out of personal projects.
Each achieved fame before grappling with the possibility of losing their edge: speaking to the Financial Times earlier this year, Mount told of his fear of walking out for a gig and seeing a crowd entirely made up of people the same age as him. Now a parent and well into his thirties, Mount finds himself battling the thought of no longer being relevant.
But where Murphy uses his music as a form of catharsis, emotionally reminiscing about depression and personal trauma, Mount treats writing as secondary to his music, pleading with fans not to read too much into his lyrics. Metronomy’s latest release, Metronomy Forever, epitomises that feeling: playfully recalling tales of high school mixtapes and fleeting romances. Nowhere is that more present than ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ – “she’s bubbling like the water in my kettle // she’s the sting in a nettle”.
But while Metronomy’s last releases – 2014’s Love Letters and 2016’s Summer 08 – successfully experimented with funk and soul influences, Metronomy Forever feels very much like a return to the band’s routes, in silky synth-pop and undeniably catchy electronica.
It should come as no surprise, then, that fans in attendance for Wednesday night’s gig were treated to a delightful 90-minute performance of Metronomy’s stellar back-catalogue.
Any fears that Metronomy were planning to treat their latest work as filler between the more well-known hits of the past were quickly dispatched as the band descended on SWG3 for their debut at the venue. Opening with new track ‘Lately’, followed by classic ‘The Bay’, Mount and his crew proceeded to hop between albums seamlessly, with each song receiving as much appreciation as the last.
Throughout the set, the various experiments Mount has undertaken through the years seemed to compliment each other perfectly, with the setlist blending into a performance of undeniable euphoria. No less than nine of Metronomy Forever’s tracks made appearances throughout the night, but there was never a sense that the band was pushing its new release on the audience.
New tracks ‘Wedding Bells’ and ‘Whitsand Bay’, in particular, demonstrated Mount’s ability to continue writing fresh-sounding music two decades into his project, while the irritatingly catchy ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ received perhaps the biggest dance of the night.
Even with the crowd in full appreciation, Mount never seemed keen to take the limelight; as the night went on, the frontman picked his moments to introduce his band. First the multi-instrumental Michael Lovett was given a guitar solo; followed by Oscar Cash – Mount’s cousin and longest-serving bandmate – on keyboards; energetic bassist Olugbenga Adelekan; and infallible drummer Anna Prior.
Indeed, the highlight of the night came as Mount stepped aside, allowing Lovett and Cash to treat the audience to a delightful electronic keyboard interlude, the stage rotating to allow them to take centre stage. Metronomy are a group made up either of best friends or incredible actors, and the sense of camaraderie was in full swing during last night’s set.
But despite his efforts to shy away from the spotlight, there is simply no doubting that Joe Mount is Metronomy, and he merits no less credit after producing a third successive Top 20 album.
It was fitting then that ‘The End of You Too’, from Mount’s sophomore work Nights Out, would be given the warmest reception by the SWG3 crowd last night. One of the songs which fuelled Metronomy’s rise, it should come as no surprise that Mount continues to write such great music more than a decade later.
Those who only came for the hits did eventually hear ‘The Look’, which prompted the expected reaction, but only after being treated to a tireless revue of Metronomy’s work since. After playing out to another new track, ‘Sex Emoji’, and with the band past its curfew, Mount returned for an encore in which he was finally given the central role he deserves.
Concluding with another of his earliest songs, ‘Radio Ladio’, Mount and his band departed having shown everyone that, six albums in, Metronomy is still relevant. Metronomy is, indeed, forever.