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Metronomy Light Up New York With Sold-Out Show

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Metronomy rolled into New York City this week for a pair of sold-out shows at Irving Plaza, just a few dates into a headlining North American tour that will keep the British indie-pop band busy through their mid-April appearance at the Coachella festival. Following that, they meet up with Coldplay for a supporting slot on a stateside arena trek running through May 4 in Los Angeles (check out their full schedule here). Seeing Metronomy entertaining the larger crowds will certainly be a delight, but catching them now on the more intimate stage is a shouldn’t-be-missed experience.

Brooklyn-based, buzz-heavy quintet Friends opened Friday’s show with a short but sweet set of beat-driven electro-pop, highlighted by the powerful vocal stylings of sultry frontwoman Samantha Urbani. With a lineup that includes two stand-up percussionists and bassist Lesley Hann, rhythm is the name of the game — and Friends’ stands out even on their oddly down-tempo cover of Ghost Town DJ’s ‘My Boo’ (watch a live performance here). At one point, Urbani scaled the speaker cabinet stage right, kneeling and belting away like the star she’s destined to become. Friends are quite promising, if still a little green — something that their hectic 2012 itinerary will definitely help improve.

Backed by a giant canvas featuring painted portraits of each member and basking in red floodlights, Metronomy opened their set with singers/guitarists/keyboardists Joseph Mount and Oscar Cash at the center of the stage playing an opening salvo before the duo quickly expanded with the arrival of bassist/singer Gbenga Adelekan and drummer/singer Anna Prior. The quartet launched into the rolling groove ‘The Bay,’ a standout from their latest album, last year’s excellent ‘The English Riviera.’ Halfway through the tune Mount began rattling off city names — “Cause this isn’t Paris / and this isn’t London / and it’s not Berlin / it’s not Hong Kong / not Tokyo” — and suddenly it didn’t matter where it was — we were at a Metronomy show, and everything outside of that moot.

From there, they diligently worked through a set largely drawn from ‘Riviera,’ recreating the album pretty much note for note, save for a mix that cast Mounts’ vocals more prominently than usual on some songs. Mount alternated between guitar and keys; for current single ‘Everything Goes My Way,’ he had his white Stratocaster strapped well above his belt, giving him room to maneuver a restrained half-dance as the song’s warm bass line, shuffling beat and four-part harmonies worked the sold-out crowd into a near frenzy of bopping hipster heads (watch the songs video here).

‘Heartbreaker’ off 2008’s ‘Night Out,’ with Cash blowing on a saxophone, channeled ‘Seventeen Seconds’-era Cure, while ’A Thing for Me’ brought out Mount’s fierce falsetto. He picked up an acoustic guitar for main set closer ‘The Look’ — the band’s biggest hit, gauging the reaction from the audience. When Metronomy returned for an encore, all four members gathered at the front of the stage, finally giving drummer Prior a chance to show of her purple sequined full-body jumper. It was a definite highlight of the night, second in style points only to the synchronized lightbulbs each band member wore throughout.

Metronomy have on occasion been derided in their homeland — The Guardian somewhat infamously once called them a “budget Kraftwerk” — but this crowd certainly wasn’t buying into that (and with tickets to Kraftwerk’s upcoming residency at the Museum of Modern Art fetching upwards of four digits each, who isn’t a budget Kraftwerk?). It will be interesting to see what Chris Martin devotees think of them, but in the meantime, it seems safe to say that everything is going their way.

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