Brit trio hit the Big Apple, play a gig illegally and win more than a few new friends. Brooklyn Union Hall, New York (August 1)

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You’re illegal immigrants!” crows one wise-crackin’ Brooklynite. He’s right, though. Before the gig has even started, Devonshire via London dance-dudes Metronomy have officially outstayed their welcome in the land of Chicken McNuggets, where iPods tumble from vending machines and a dreadlocked-marketman sells Obama posters (and joss sticks!) on the sidewalk. Inside the venue, the trio are taking to the stage at 1am – 49 minutes after they should’ve left the country.

“Um, yeah, this is our end of visa party,” improvises a cheerful but wary Joseph Mount with one eye looking out for US Customs officials and the other on their idling Canada-bound people carrier. Either way, they’re still throwing a party in the basement of one of NYC’s hippest bars. Decked out like a library, Union Hall is packed – which is impressive, seeing as the threesome don’t have a US label – as punters pull shapes like peacocks.

It’s not just the law this band don’t give a hoot about, as bassist Gabriel Stebbing swings from what looks suspiciously like a bowing gas pipe while Joseph unravels ‘My Heart Rate Rapid’, their part-Robocop, part-mariachi but all awesome opener. It’s a level of quality they maintain throughout, pumping out hits (from the flabbergasting new LP ‘Nights Out’) like Suburbo-wagons fart out planet-throttling emissions. Oh yeah, and it’s all conducted in near-pitch black; they spin on the spot like pirouetting waxworks, synchronised chest-bulbs glinting like Christmas baubles.

Metronomy, y’see, are an incredibly precise art (it’s impossible to do ‘prog’ when your drummer is just microchips and wires – but hey, at least he won’t stink out the bus). Exact, yes, but also eclectic: German oompah, Moroccan nose-organ, French accordion and, um, jazz sax all get stirred into their cosmic broth, with the almighty ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘Radio Ladio’ and closing power-driver ‘You Could Easily Have Me’ showcasing their talents best. It should be annoying; instead, it’s brilliant. Of course, if the NYPD knew about this, they’d have the place surrounded – but it’s hard to see paperwork, or anything for that matter, stopping Metronomy from marching on.

Greg Cochrane

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