Live Music + Gig Reviews

Metronomy + Lightspeed Champion + Underground Railroad @ Amersham Arms, London

12 January 2008

The words ‘free entrance’ are sweet ones for any student. But when it’s to see bands that boast as much talent as this bill boasts it’s a rare thing. The Amersham Arms in New Cross, a local hangout for Goldsmiths students as well as the odd cluster of old boys in the adjacent pub, has recently been tarted up and is now under the able management of the owners of the Lock Tavern in Camden. Regular nights include the idiosyncratic ‘musical bingo’, ‘ska burlesque’ and all manner of live acts, from Chas and Dave to nu-rave electro fare.

Tonight it’s the monthly Adventures In The Beetroot Field affair showcasing a mish mash of musical genres by exciting and up and coming talent. First out of the hat are French trio Underground Railroad, a Sonic Youth preoccupied London based outfit signed to One Little Indian.

Lead vocalist and drummer Raphael Mura starts proceedings in a standing position thrashing away at two floor tom drums next to his drum kit. The bass and rhythm guitars kick in to create a cacophony of avant punk sounds which reign down on the ever-growing audience. Heads start bopping in a universal sign of pleasure with one punter at the front appearing to have a spasmodic fit induced by the fuzzy guitars and steady thump of the dexterous drummer.

The tempo is set at fast throughout with guitarist Marion Andrau taking on vocal duties for Headache. Her songs are the highlight, with shrill intense post riot grrrl sounds reminiscent of Courtney Love at her most truculent. With a recent album Twisted Trees, this is a band well worth experiencing live for their sheer energy and enthusiasm.

The frenetic pace is brought down a notch or two with the entrance of Lightspeed Champion, the new musical exploration of former Test Icicle, 21-year-old Devonte Hynes. He saunters on stage wearing a large bearskin hat more useful in the Antarctic than a packed, hot and sweaty club in south east London.

Far removed from the sounds of his former band he delivers a set of folk country pop melodies which are at times tender and always catchy. The lonesome minstrel is accompanied by guest musicians on a violin and keyboard, who compliment his tuneful voice, enriched with versatility and depth.

Highlights are the songs Galaxy Of The Lost and Midnight Surprise from debut album Falling Off The Lavender Bridge.

Dev is clearly enjoying himself and as the set moves to its twilight phase he asks the audience inquisitively, “Has anyone ever slept with an ex?” jokingly replying for them before they have had a chance, “Of course you have; this is New Cross”.

The set closes, all sound their appreciation and the verbal diahorrea riddled girl next to me who has been rattling on to her friend during the entire set gives one of the biggest whoops of all. Funny that.

Joseph Mount, the wunderkind behind Metronomy, said in an interview: “If you let yourself become a nu-rave band you’re gonna last a few minutes.” He may have a point but it doesn’t seem to stop some people from trying to unfairly pigeonhole the trio into this genre. Their second album Nights Out is due for release in March and you get the feeling that even better things are to come from these boys.

The Metronomites sport matching outfits and their trademark luminary trickery, with a circular light attached to the centre of each of their black t-shirts which they press on and off, or, what those on acid might interpret as large beaming breasts sans nipples. You can’t help but smile not just because of their well-choreographed performance and gimmicks but also because of the sheer enjoyment their quirky futuristic sound creates.

Old song Black Eye/Burnt Thumb with its bizarre marching band beats and almost accordion like sound has the bulk of the audience moving their bodies to the splurges of sound. A mini stage invasion ensues at which point someone knocks the equipment and the song ends abruptly. There are moans all round as the culprits scamper from the stage sheepishly but it’s not long before the show resumes. Some newer songs show accessible poppy aesthetics and a real progression in their sound. Heartbreaker is all funked up with Oscar Cash playing a saxophone and Joseph’s soft vocals shimmering out. Last year’s single Radio Ladio has glitchy, off kilter beats with dense vocals.

The gig moves towards its final stages with crowd pleaser You Could Easily Have Me with its heavy guitar riff, crashing cymbals and shaky synth melody. It creates enough frenzied kinetic energy to take the roof off the place or to power a town the size of Kidderminster. With the crowd left buzzing Metronomy sign off, their work done, wandering off into the night with their vast array of musical paraphernalia.

buy Metronomy MP3s or CDs
Spotify Metronomy on Spotify

More on Metronomy
Metronomy – Metronomy Forever
Somerset House Summer Series, The Cure, Oneohtrix Point Never… This Week In Gigs
Metronomy – Summer 08
Metronomy – Love Letters
Metronomy – The English Riviera