There were not always sell-out crowds for Metronomy. Towards the end of this gig singer Joe Mount dryly recalled an early show at the small ABC2, where one punter took the effort to show him a phone message that simply read "You're s***". Mount can use it as an anecdote now, but you doubt such criticism ever fazed him.
There has always been a self-assurance about the group, and here they confidently rolled out three new songs from their low-key fourth album Love Letters as an opening salvo. The group's bleeping synths are still present and correct, but their instinct for traditional pop is now more to the fore in a live setting, with Month of Sundays a big, yearning number and Love Letters itself bouncing along on a Wall of Sound drumbeat, played expertly by Anna Prior.
Ironically, much of Love Letters, the album, points to a more reserved style than their break-through record The English Rivera, and not all the tonal shifts survived the trip unscathed. The finger clicking doo-wop of My Aquarius and the languid, cold vibe of The Upsetter seemed to spark much audience chatter, although the pounding, relentless electronica of instrumental Boy Racers fared far better. This was evidently a crowd more geared to dance than any sort of introspection.
Luckily, the group were able to support their low-tempo moments with rushes of energy from the past. Holiday still resembles a long-lost 1980s movie theme, Radio Ladio presented a handy, shoutable chant, led by bassist Olugbenga Adelekan and Corrine and The Bay whipped by in euphoric, rave-friendly fashion. For all that Mount focuses on his lyrics, as a live band Metronomy seem most skilled at jubilant pop with clever edges attached. There are worse things to be.