The Comet Is Coming visited Metronome on 29 November, and performed an incredible set to a sold out crowd.
Words by Mike Kane
I didn’t quite know what I’d let myself in for when attending The Comet Is Coming at Metronome on Friday night. What I did know was that it was a sold-out show (one of many sold-out dates on the current tour), so I was probably in for something special.
First up is Leafcutter John, armed with little more than a laptop, an assortment of torches and some intriguing, DIY-looking electronics. He briefly and politely introduces himself, and as part of his intro, explains that he’ll be playing a custom-made light-sensitive panel, using the torches to control the sounds. Even though I can see it, it’s hard to figure out what’s happening. On one hand it’s simple: the torch moves, the sound changes. On the other hand: what exactly am I hearing?! The other main sound source is an instrument which a fellow audience member aptly describes as “an electronic digeridoo, innit”. Leafcutter John uses these instruments to create an intriguing, swirling set of danceable tunes, melding found sounds and field recordings with bright, chirpy synths and swinging drum grooves. In his twitter bio, Leafcutter John describes himself as “Musician, Producer, Software Engineer, Lover, Builder…” and I’m pretty sure you could add Musical Mad Scientist” and/or “Magician” to that list too. Pretty cool.
The Comet Is Coming slip on to the stage to an excited welcome from the crowd, and launch into their set with Super Zodiac, starting as they mean to go on: frenetic drums, huge bass synths and urgent, restless saxophone lines in a blur of jazz, electronica and psych rock. It’s startling, intense – almost disorientating. If the energy level in the room wasn’t enough already, it goes up again as the band transition into Summon the Fire. It’s a super catchy melody over a runaway-train drums and epic chords – which makes it feel like something I’ve heard before (though I’m pretty sure I haven’t). Either way, it’s a wicked sound… consider me a new fan.
The slow, ominous groove of Blood of the Past is another stand out from the set, but here’s the thing about The Comet Is Coming: it’s not so much about the individual songs. Rather, it’s a constant wave of lights and sounds and as an audience you’re just along for the ride. Instead of listening to The Comet Is Coming, it sort of happens to you. The band play for a solid hour and forty minutes barely coming up for air – only taking a break when one of them plays a solo, or towards the end of the set when keys player Danalogue finally addresses the crowd for the first time before “it’s time to get plugged back in”. The solos are ace too – it’s a real treat to hear each of the musicians showcase what they can do with their respective instrument, feeding off of and back into the applause from the crowd. Their musicianship is also brought into focus in moments of unison between Danalogue’s synth lines and King Shabaka’s impressive sax playing, or just how in sync they both are with drummer Betamax throughout.
At times it feels like being underwater, pulled along by an undercurrent of dubby grooves, in other moments it feels like you’re in your own boss battle at the end of a post-apocalyptic video game. All at once it’s ancient and futuristic…music that works on a cosmic level. Gigs at Metronome are often an experience – and this was no exception.
If you’d like to discover something unique at Metronome, we have plenty more events coming up.