It was a helluva Saturday night at the festival, which is now in its third year.
Metronomy closed the second day of By The Sea festival in Margate with bangers and panache last night. Frontman Joe Mount graced the Hall By The Sea stage in retro theme park Dreamland with rock star posturing and the set was accompanied by a dazzling light show; these accruements to the band’s indie-pop bangers sat well with the venue’s old school razzle-dazzle.
The show opened with the idiosyncratic groove of ‘Back Together’, the lead track from Mount and co.’s latest album ‘Summer 08’, and segued into the laconic and synth-driven ‘Miami Logic’. Mount, in white jeans and a white t-shirt, looking like a sort of showbiz painter and decorator, pounded an upright drum that leant the tracks deeper groove than on record and this lithe performance saw the band – which is really Mount’s project – showcase the off-kilter funk the constitutes the bulk of the album, which was released last year.
The band their back catalogue too – ‘Summer 08’ is Metronomy’s fifth album – and rolled out fan favourites such as the hushed ‘Everything Goes My Way’ and ‘The Bay’. Midway through the set, Mount announced that he’d reached the part of the performance at which he typically made a “political” or “gushing” speech. Which would it be tonight? He opted the for latter, asking the audience, “Does anyone know what it feels like to be in love?”, before the band played the Motown-inspired ‘Love Letters’. It was a wise decision; Margate’s a romantic old town.
Earlier in the day, London choral group Deep Throat Choir took to the same stage, which barely accommodated their two dozen-strong number, whose near-a capella (there was a little percussion in there too) made for a truly stellar show. Standout track ‘Burning’, a cover of the Detroit producer MK’s ‘90s house anthem, sounded ominous and brooding; a jet-black love song. Their recent debut album ‘Be OK’ is largely made up of covers and this was a fine showcase for the band’s transformative power, which made for an intense and thrilling performance.
Prior to this, Australian singer-songwriter Jen Cloher performed on the Draft House Stage at Olby’s Soul Café. The underground venue was well-suited to the insouciant charm of her ragged pop-rock, the cavernous space amplifying the more raucous moments in which she and partner Courtney Barnett – she made a guest appearance on rhythm guitar – exchanged ear-splitting call-and-response vocals. It was an endearingly low-key guest spot from Barnett, whom Cloher introduced along with the rest of the backing band like it was no big deal. Well, the set was incredibly accomplished on its own terms, the guest appearance of an indie hero notwithstanding.
Speaking of heroes, south London punks HMLTD transformed The Roller Disco into a cacophony of sound and vision. The band could be spotted meandering around the retro theme park rides at Dreamland earlier in the day, looking like right bunch of fabulous droogs with their multi-coloured hair and natty dress sense (their guitarist matched his black-and-red striped suit to his dyed locks, looking like Dennis the Menace’s absolute rotter of a cousin). The show was incendiary, with frontman Henry Spychalski parading topless across the stage to their overwhelming sound, which is part punk, part prog, somehow part vaudeville and music hall. It was the strangest and perhaps the most impressive set of the festival so far.
And then it was up to Metronomy to close the proceedings. Mount decreed it “the most eastern show UK show of our careers” and got into the spirit of things by calling out the names of nearby Kent towns (“Ramsgate! Ashford!”) to establish if any of their residents were in the house. The response was fairly muted; he might have had more luck if he’d called out “East London!”. Still, at least he had a go.
That stunning light display turned the band into purple silhouettes of themselves, emphasising the iconoclastic nature of the show. Metronomy’s 2011 album ‘The English Riviera’ is a love letter to the British seaside and, having enjoyed their polished Saturday night performance at By The Sea, you’d be hard-pressed not to share their point of view that it’s a bloody good place to be.