Metronomy at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 12th March 2014
Being cool is difficult. It’s more difficult than it ever was before. Gone are the days when all you had to do is smoke. While smoking is still, and always will be, cool, you now need a master’s grasp of irony and post-irony, and the tightrope in between, to even try to appear cool.
Take Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, for example. Released to a public who actually appreciated it in 1981, the song soon fell into disrepair as cheesy or hackneyed. Then, nearly 30 years after its release, its hackneyed cheese gained it a new ironic following. Its popularity then caught on with the general public and it had turned full circle to become a post-ironic pleasure for the great unwashed.
For further analysis on the subject, listen to Macklemore’s Thrift Shop (and no, we’re not sure if we like that song genuinely, ironically or post-ironically).
Metronomy are cool. We know that. They are so cool, in fact, that they can straddle the line between ironic and post-ironic in their outfit and stage set-up combo without ever giving the impression of coming down on either side.
They have a flower power backdrop to the stage, resembling one of the cutaway scenes from That 70’s Show, with the men dressed in wine dinner jackets, white trousers and white boaters, while drummer Anna Prior is bedecked in a wine sleeveless jumpsuit.
Their cool extends to their play. Opening with Monstrous, a song that sounds somewhat like a castle level from Super Mario, leader singer Joseph Mount looks louchely over his shoulder from his stage-front position to his beautifully coiffed bandmates. Month of Sundays, which is second out, has a bit more of a rocky edge, but they continue to just bop about the stage like a 1970s wedding band.
Something strange happens during Love Letters, though. As Prior hammers the beat on the drum kit all five band members (including touring guitarist/keyboardist Michael Lovett) belt out the lyrics to the seemingly B-52s inspired songs.
There’s an enthusiasm, an energy, a joie de vivre that betrays Metronomy’s cool credentials. For a brief moment the flower power, post-irony veil is removed. Smiles cross their faces and there is a giddy energy to the band. They love what they do and, clearly, sometimes they can’t help but show it. Granted, the vocal harmonies may well be awful on this particular song, but it makes for a glorious glimpse behind the band’s cool façade.
“It’s an absolute pleasure to finally be doing a proper gig in Dublin,” Mound says addressing the audience for the first time. He blames politics, “Bush and Blair sort of stuff,” as he says himself, for them not being here more often. Besides Love Letters, it’s the one moment were Mound show real, genuine honesty.
He then swigs on his beer, retakes his seat at his keyboard and, as the lights are changed to some form of disco-ball effect, launches into the familiar riff of The Look. Along with The Bay, The Looks gets the biggest reaction from the crowd, who, we assume, aren’t being ironic or post-ironic in their appreciation.
In truth, Metronomy have the crowd on the hook from start to finish. From the instrumental of Boy Racer to the sing along of Everything Goes My Way, Metronomy seem to hit every note right without ever having to step out of their comfort zone.
That, perhaps, is the one flaw with the show; Metronomy never really try anything different. They simply play their fine collection of songs in front of 1,200 excited people. A terrific light set up adds to the effect, and they never lose their cool.
This is not a show that we will go to our graves raving about, that just wouldn’t be cool, but it is one we’d more than happily sit through again and again.
Metronomy Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost