Metronomy @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney (23/11/2010)

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In they all came, their hair tied up and out, arranged with an endless supply of gel, wax, moulding cream and mousse. The trendy element, with so much time to spare to create that unique hair sculpture, drain pipes turning the dancefloor into a black pole field, it’s always nice to go to the Oxford Art Factory and this Tuesday night was no exception.

The combination of powerful air conditioning, always well-balanced sound, encased arty dioramas and $5 cans makes this possibly the best small-to-medium venue in the city, if it weren’t for the girders that break up the room and make some of the best viewing spots decidedly ‘restricted view’.

Their job holding up the ceiling, however, is peerless, and having people perched on ledges, standing on benches and leaning over the mezzanine balcony to grasp a view only makes the atmosphere that little more intimate.

Olugbenga of Metronomy warmed the room up from the decks, mixing up pop, house and electro before finishing up with Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, meaning that when the Melbourne foursome World’s End Press took the stage they did so on the back of two of hip hop’s biggest stars, a strange preparation for what followed.

World’s End Press seem to combine elements of MGMT and Duran Duran into an easy feeling, but perhaps a little lite sound which they describe as “Big beats, warm and bright melodies, chic bass lines, an abundance of house-piano riffs: four-to-the-floor” but which, live, seemed often to break down in to modern funk, which is no bad thing. I can’t say anyone was losing their head, but they were entertaining enough for a school night, even if it was clear that most people were there for the main event.

Metronomy’s second album Nights Out has been out for a couple of years, long enough for those who’ve heard it to cherish every track and enjoy the peaks and falls of what is a pretty stellar long-player. Since then many must have wondered what these guys were like live. I’d heard they were impressive but I couldn’t imagine how their neat polished sound could get delivered by a four-piece on stage.

The answer, as it turns out, is that live they’re a bit rawer, a bit more rock and a lot of fun. With the simple costume trick of small oyster lights hanging on their chests that blared into life in time, in sync and frequently, they took the electric out of their music and on to their bodies.

Anna Prior on the drums was beat perfect throughout, but stayed withdrawn and often in darkness as nominal front-man Joseph Mount and his two colleagues owned the stage.

Biggest mosh-ups of the night had to be for Heartbreaker and, more so, The End Of You Too which was the song that really turned the mixer in to a heaving sea of dancing, not least with its arrhythmic breakdown. That said favourites A Thing For Me and the Radio Ladio encore both had people smiling, jumping, happy and raucous. In fact, this was a gig with no dark spots, just an uplifting romp through their very happy catalogue.

Metronomy are a lot of fun live – a different thing to their recorded sound, but likeable and personable. The banter with the Sydney crowd (“Anyone out here like sea creatures? Anyone out there that likes transport that uses just one rail?”) was endearingly familiar. This has definitely got me looking forward to their next album release.

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