The Shepherd's Bush Empire never lets me down. There's something about this venue, steeped in its ornate mystery and tight intimacy that brings out the best in every artist that performs here. And for Metronomy, who release their third album The English Riviera this week, they came into their element tonight. The venue was packed, the crowd full of vigour and party spirit; it wasn't long before the standing section looked more like a nightclub dancefloor. Bodies twitched and revolved to the band's frenetic electro rhythms, day-glo rave sticks being thrown down from the upper balconies to disappear in the sea of revelry below.
In a genius bit of staging, the band wore what can only be described as light pads attached to the front of their shirts - these would dramatically flick on at various points in their set, synchronised perfectly to the music. Forget stage pyrotechnics or a luxurious backdrop of visuals, tonight, this inspired bit of costumery provided ten times the atmosphere. A stark, vibrantly coloured range of lighting effects washed over the band throughout, a rainbow cloak that brought forth visions of summer Mediterranean nights.
And it's this aspect the band aimed so precisely for with The English Riviera - the albums tracks interspersed here with a handful of fan favourites. Having had the new album on constant repeat on my iPod this past week, the thing that struck me most tonight was just how bigger everything sounded. One of Metronomy's biggest charms is that for a synth band, every part of their sonic-makeup sounds so organic and handcrafted. Every track is a work of love; you can almost feel every step of processes that went into their creation. And in the live setting, each and every song was elevated into an anthemic dance master-work. And the crowd lapped it up, the cheers of appreciation bookending each number testament to that.
Equally charming was frontman Joe Mount's demeanour. So many bands can come across as either immensely cocky or overly meek and stilted when performing live, but Mount carried himself with effortless cool. You could really sense the mutual respect between band and audience here and Mount even found time to joke about the public transport disruption on the night. Safe to say, it hadn't kept the fans away. There was a delightful shot of distinctly British wit to everything Metronomy did, a particular highlight being the music-statues-esque dance moves.
Tracks like The Bay and Heartbreaker reared up as if fueled by pure living spirit; I spied a fair few people down below crowd-surfing, as if the surging forward on the surging pulse of the tracks themselves. With its 80s-sounding riff, Corrine was the ultimate in toe-tapping energy. The louder the crowd cheered, the harder they danced, the more Metronomy enveloped themselves into their songs. Trapped in the tight confines of the Shepherd's Bush Empire, all this energy had nowhere to go, and you could physically feel the music bouncing off the walls, reflecting and refracting off the band themselves, spurring them.
Culminating in current single The Look, the band then walked back on to a rapturously received encore, Metronomy. You need only look at the heaps of acclaim The English Riviera has received from the music press to realise that this is Metronomy's time to shine, their moment. And tonight at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, that moment came alive.