A slovenly jogger’s bicep-mounted iPod screen sways through the black toward me rather than this increasingly elusive bus’s amber triple-digits. Looks like the lesbian dentist’s assistant got her community centre’s out of hours activity schedule wrong as she’s met at the door by her matte-black doppelganger in its glass. The frog-necked blonde on the bus stop bench jostles her knockers and shuffles her change into order of superiority to avail the driver of a DayRider. I pass a café whose walls are adorned with Neon observations passed-off as an art-form.
‘The Inauguration of the Coconut Pope’
This isn’t what it says, just what I wish it did. At the Box Office, the Freshman girls excitedly tending desk give me a lapsed Wu Tang ticket to denote my difference in patronage to the rest of the crowd, FAO the bouncers who swiftly switch it for a Metronomy one. With ten minutes to go before Clock Opera, I exit the ground floor bar’s far end into the quad and slouch in one of the metallic patio chairs facing the venue to drink and smoke until the support show up. An unassuming but familiar face rounds the corner to my right and descends the ramp into Club Academy prompting gasps from the table to my left. I look over and fill in what their shock won’t allow them to say:
“Its Joseph Mount” I say, pleasantly surprised.
The two guys next to me splutter exaltations for Metronomy’s recent Sheffield Leadmill show. The guy nearest me in a Batman T-Shirt gushes about how amazing it was, before his exuberance dissipates and his enthusiasm gives way to a look of attempted remembrance as he tells me that there was something missing.
“Didn’t you think?” he looks over asking his friend.
The guy with him quietly agrees, but so minimally as to make me wonder if he actually does, or is just concurring for argument’s sake. Neither goes into details. Batman T-shirt guy tells me to keep an eye out for this elusive shortcoming in their performance. I mention that I’m writing a review, and tell them they can read it to see if I figured out what ‘it’ was. The humungous hubbub of the PA’s bass reverberates off the facades making up this enclosure, signaling the arrival of Clock Opera. As I get up to leave I ask their names, which they reveal to be Callum & Jim.
Batman Callum & Gentleman Jim.
Clock Opera’s Depeche Modus Operandi seems to be heavily reliant on ‘People Are People’ style drumstick assaults on helpless metal.
Band leader Black Beard is whipping a steel milk jug. He also appears to be in possession of a Terminator-Eye earplug, but I can’t tell whether is blessed of an LED or digital red, or is just glowing so because of the varying different hues of the lighting rig and environment. They’re all very earnest & jovial in an overwhelmingly 80s sense, which to me is just about as hollow as those sentiments come. They sing something like “Get up get out, stand up and shout your name, don’t be afraid to get in the way again” while the balding Forty-Something next to me Shazams it for posterity.
I get up and get out.
And in what could be construed as ‘shouting my name & getting in the way’, it tonight seems I’ve been given the cosmic occupation of ‘That Weird Guy’ -maybe the regulars were all stuck on the back of buses or something? – as I find myself duty-bound to be he whose first word sets up a flare behind your eyes to the person accompanying you, the death-rattle flicker of which spells-out in morse code:
–. .. …- . — . .- -. . -..- -.-. ..- … . – — .– .- .-.. -.- .- .– .- -.– ..-. .-. — – – …. .. … –. ..- -.—
I start ill-advisedly attempting to engage the throng of punters packed at the bar in a conversation about the venue’s policy of not allowing cans to be sold unopened for fear they may be used as missiles, musing out loud whether this ordinance might be relaxed after Clock Opera depart the stage, considering the overriding feeling among the capacity crowd is palpably one of adoration for the impending headliners.
Slipping into the wake of a hefty fella and his mates who unceremoniously cut a swathe through the packed house, I manage to insinuate myself behind the barrier and find this spot seems to be THE congregation spot for reviewers, flapping notebooks around and peering through sub-par digital cameras. Metronomy take the stage to the plaintive strains of twin violins and accompanying squawks of circling gulls which ring-in ‘The English Riviera’ before duly launching into the murky ‘We Broke Free’, at which point we all find ourselves decidedly trapped.
The critics immediately give-up their shit and start swaying, one hand on the railing like swooning floosies. I crane my neck around to examine the throbbing mass behind me to clock a capacity crowd of every conceivable man jack locked into an unabashed dance-fap for Mount and this optimum incarnation of the now 12 year-old Metronomy. Showing little discernable fatigue from a tour which has effectively been running since January (including a stopping-off here twice previously at the Deaf Institute on the19th of that month, as well as a slot at Parklife in June and set for the US next month, then to Europe, Australia & Japan into 2012), I’m detecting little that’s absent in these impeccable renditions rather than the more Electro-inflected dance sound that established them.
Ironically, having relaxed into the more traditional delivery of four-piece rock outfit via the more spasticated percussive elements and sonic sojourns of 2008’s Night Out, Metronomy sound more progressive than any of their peers, despite being unarguably steeped in bygone musical idioms. The set is generously peppered with offerings from previous outings and for the most part forms a cohesive whole apart from the fact that tracks from The English Riviera stand out as impeccable among their marginally lesser brethren.
The band’s chest-mounted orbs of white light sway and pulsate on the dimly lit stage, likewise the cameras and mobile devices of the flailing-armed crowd. All the while this perception of mine that so took-in the lesbian dentist’s assistant and frog-necked blonde is increasingly frustrated by what exactly this perfect performance by a band so obviously at the top of their game is missing. So if you’re out there Batman Callum or Gentleman Jim, answers on a postcard please.