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Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The English Riviera

Metronomy and Sandro Perri at The Hoxton in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’ve been concert-going in Toronto for a few years now so there’s not really a lot of venues in this town that I’m not at least a little acquainted with; some I’ve spent probably an unhealthy percentage of the 21st century in, but I digress. One, however, that I hadn’t set foot in before is The Hoxton – née 69 Bathurst – even though its hardly out of the way and has been hosting shows for a few years now. That they’ve been more of the more electronic sort goes part of the way of explaining why, but then I do like some electronic-y stuff – like England’s Metronomy, who were there on Monday night and finally allowed me to see what this place was like. And ability to host live music notwithstanding, The Hoxton feels very dance clubby, all sleek and neon and so not The Horseshoe, but hey – any decently-sized room in the city that puts on shows should be appreciated.

From Sandro Perri’s comments during his opening set that this was one of the strangest places he’d played proved that I wasn’t the only Torontonian who was feeling a little out of place in this room in his own hometown, or maybe he was just referring to supporting Metronomy. On one level, his deceptively complex electro-jazz-folk is a natural fit for Metronomy’s rather cerebral approach to dance music, but that’s probably more the case over headphones than on the stage. Still, he was here fronting a six-piece band with a packed house in front of him and a critically acclaimed album in last year’s Impossible Spaces to push, so none of that really mattered.

To watch them play was like seeing a man standing in the centre of a Rube Goldberg machine, Perri remaining stationary while either leaning into the mic to sing or attending to his guitar as his bandmates built densely intricate layers of keys and percussion around him; there was simultaneously nothing to see and yet so much to behold. I’ve never really listened to much of Perri’s work; I’ve heard a few of his albums and while they’ve been pretty listens, they’ve not really stuck with me and I put some of that blame on the artist – despite quite obviously being a work of great creativity and craftsmanship, he just makes it sound so easy, so effortless that it’s easy to let it become aural wallpaper. And while that same laid-backedness carried over to the live show – most songs were infused with a nimble lightness and sense of whimsy except for the one introduced as ballad but was almost a dirge – it was hard to not be impressed with the talent on display, even if their jamming did stray into indulgent territory on a few occasions.

As I mentioned last month, I regretted missing Metronomy’s last visit in October but scheduling and the fact that I was still warming to their Mercury-nominated The English Riviera kept me at home that night. But if someone had told be beforehand whay a good show they put on, maybe I’d have dragged myself out regardless. I suppose that I should have known they’d put on a tight, polished, and entertaining show given that they’re at the stage where they can headline smaller festivals in UK, but still. You guys are supposed to look out for me. For a band that’s largely anchored to their instruments, they were surprisingly physical in their performance. While only bassist Gbenga Adelekan was really free to roam and roam he did, it was actually keyboardist Oscar Cash who had some of the best dance moves and Anna Prior’s sequined purple jumpsuit easily won the best outfit award; it’s a shame she was hidden at the back behind the drum kit for most of the show. And of course there were their signature light discs fastened to their shirts, which were quite effective at cueing up the audience like applause signs or beacons to start the party.

While they easily got the room moving, Metronomy don’t necessarily make music for acting out; it’s more the soundtrack for being effortlessly cool. The title of their latest album, which made up about two-thirds of the set, is quite appropriate given how they craft dance music infused with quintessential English reserve, with their relatively austere approach to synths and samples, cascading falsetto vocals and irresistibly throbbing rhythm section coming across alternately and simultaneously icy and elegant. And on top of all that, they were all kinds of charming with frontman Joseph Mounts taking the obligatory digs at Montreal and commenting on the venue name, noting that if he was spotted in the real Hoxton carrying his acoustic guitar he’d be shot… though he quickly amended that to, “called a wanker”. If you were unsure about whether or not to bother seeing Metronomy live and we’re somehow fortunate enough to get a third visit before they go off the road to make record number four, let me tell you now: bother.

Sidewalk Hustle also has a review of the show and Cincinnati CityBeat and The Village Voice talk to Sandro Perri, whom you can probably expect will be announced any day now as opening for Destroyer at The Opera House on June 23.

Photos: Metronomy, Sandro Perri @ The Hoxton – April 2, 2012
MP3: Metronomy – “The Look”
MP3: Sandro Perri – “Love And Light”
MP3: Sandro Perri – “Futureactive Kid (Part 1)”
Video: Metronomy – “Everything Goes My Way”
Video: Metronomy – “The Look”
Video: Metronomy – “The Bay”
Video: Metronomy – “She Wants”
Video: Metronomy – “A Thing For Me”
Video: Metronomy – “You Could Easily Have Me”
Video: Metronomy – “Heartbreaker”
Video: Metronomy – “A Thing For Me”
Video: Metronomy – “Holiday”
Video: Metronomy – “My Heart Rate Rapid”
Video: Metronomy – “Radio Ladio”
Video: Metronomy – “A Thing For Me”
Video: Sandro Perri – “Love And Light”

Throwback English singer-songwriter Gemma Ray has made a date at The Great Hall for May 10 in support of her new record Island Fire, out April 16 in the UK and May 29 in North America. I caught her back at SXSW 2010 and she’s an entertaining and engaging performer; worth investigating.

MP3: Gemma Ray – “Runaway”
Video: Gemma Ray – “Rescue Me”

DIY talks to Clock Opera’s Guy Connelly as they await the April 17 release of their debut Ways To Forget.

PopMatters checks in with Gareth Campesinos of Los Campesinos!.

Gerard Love of Lightships (and yes, Teenage Fanclub) puts together a list of some of the music that inspired his solo debut Electric Cables for All-Music Guide.

Interview talks to Jason Pierce of Spiritualized, whose Sweet Heart Sweet Light is out April 17. They’re at The Phoenix on May 5.

The Line Of Best Fit talks to Stuart Braithwaite about curating a day of the London edition of All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in May and have also made available to download a recording of the band’s appearance at the first ATP back in 2000. Mogwai are at The Phoenix on June 18.

MP3: Mogwai – “Stanley Kubrick” (live at ATP, 2000)

Scandinavian singer-songwriter Ane Brun, in town at the Great Hall on May 10, has opted to introduce herself to North American audiences by means of an Arcade Fire cover available to download via Rolling Stone. It appears as a bonus digital track of her new album It All Starts With One, out May 1.

MP3: Ane Brun – “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)”

Ólafur Arnalds’ contribution to the Hunger Games soundtrack – which also appeared on his 2010 mini-album Found Songs – has been made available to download for free. There’s also a new animated video to go with “Near Light”, taken from Living Room Songs, and a track from his collaboration with Nils Frahm is available to stream at DIY.

MP3: Ólafur Arnalds – “Allt Varð Hljótt”
Stream: Ólafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – “a2”
Video: Ólafur Arnalds – “Near Light”

By : Frank Yang at 8:34 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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