Metronomy, Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington DC

Metronomy, Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington DC

Team Metronomy, you’ve done good.


The nightlife of the H Street corridor of Northeast Washington would rival U Street’s clubs, bars and restaurants, if trains came out this far. But its out of the way location ensures that the audiences who turn up for shows at the few clubs on this street are not the ‘oh, this looks interesting and it’s cheap’ or ‘Pitchfork wrote about them, so let’s go!’ type of crowds but instead are the supremely devoted. The 400-capacity Rock & Roll Hotel says on its website ‘WE ARE NOT A REALLY A FUNCTIONAL HOTEL’; maybe out of towners have confused the loud rock venue for actual accommodation? What’s especially cool about this place is that even if the show on the downstairs level is booked solid, you can hear and feel the music through the floorboards in the upstairs bar.

Before the Saturday night show, informal chatting with other gig-goers suggests Metronomy have never played in Washington. Curly-haired Joseph Mount himself refutes this: he tells us he and his crew gigged in this very town four years ago, but that it was ‘much quieter’ then and with a tentative smile, he looks equally relieved and chuffed this gig has completely sold out. Often when British bands come to gig in America, they can’t bring their full lighting with them. Luckily for us, the famed chest lights are out in full force, and for anyone who had never seen the lights flicker on and off to the backing rhythms, it’s quite a spectacle, along with the other coloured lights glimmering behind the band. Mount also makes fun of massive distances between American cities, quipping that he ‘thinks’ Boston is nearby (uh, not really, it’s nearly 450 miles away) and if we have any friends there, we should tell them to go to their show the next night. Endearing.

Tunes from 2011 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘The English Riviera’ receive the best reception, fans singing along to Mount’s ‘this isn’t Paris / this isn’t London / this isn’t Berlin / this isn’t Hong Kong / no Tokyo’, hands in the air as Gbenga Adelekan’s bass line propels the song forward. ‘A Thing For Me’ is so cheeky in its delivery: male falsetto vocals can go terribly wrong, but this is an example where it goes exactly right. Besides monster grooves, Metronomy remind us all with this song that the success of so much dance music is reliant on a love story. But then Mount shows off his mad guitar skills on a track like ‘You Could Easily Have Me’ and with a couple of drinks, you could have convinced yourself you were at an entirely different concert. Watching Oscar Cash pull jokey faces and do the robot while he’s not bleeping and blipping along on his Akai put you squarely back in the moment.

When the band return for the encore, drummer Anna Prior fills in admirably for Roxanne Clifford, guest vocalist on the band’s latest single ‘Everything Goes My Way’; she duets with Mount and finally getting some spotlight time of her own. But there really was no question what Metronomy’s parting shot would be: ‘Radio Ladio’, with everyone spelling out the letters as if it were a tribal chant. No-one in the club wants them to leave. Team Metronomy, you’ve done good.