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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

A Catch-Up with Metronome: Built by Music Lovers, For Everyone

24 June 19 interview: Becky Timmins

Newcomer venue Metronome opened its doors last October, and has been wowing audiences with its audio-visual finesse and eclectic programme ever since. We caught up with promoter Kristi Maria to see how things have been going down on Huntingdon Street…

The Invisible Orchestra. Photo Ralph Barklam

“I wasn’t sure about that weird act you put on last week, but it sounded bloody good”. Kristi quotes Metronome audience members a lot during our chat, and this particular one comes off the back of a show last November by Japanese psychedelic band Acid Mothers Temple. As we’re sat in Metronome’s cavernous entrance chatting, it doesn’t take very long to realise just how audience-focused the Metronome lot are. “We’ve already got regulars who come to things taking a punt – they won’t necessarily have heard of the act – but they’ll come because the sound is so good and the programme is interesting.”

Since opening at the back end of last year, Metronome has hosted a diverse as heck programme, with events and performances spanning live music, theatre, spoken word and film. And that comes from a headstrong mission to be a little bit different to other venues in the city, drawing inspiration from venues outside Notts, like Band on the Wall in Manchester.

“We want people to come through the doors and be able to encounter loads of different things. There was one week recently where we had an electronic act, a folk act, and then we turned into a theatre for a few days”, Kristi tells me.

Speaking of the space – it’s bleddy state of the art. Previously a royal mail sorting office, it has transformed into a live music venue with serious focus on both the sound and the visuals. “We’ve spent a lot of time and effort on ensuring both are the very best they can be. I want people to come and leave thinking how strong both are – it’s something we’re really passionate about here”.

Petebox

You certainly know you are onto something good when the acts sing the praises of a venue’s facilities, rather than gritting their teeth about them. “Beth Rowley said the sound was pristine, which is really nice to hear”, says Kristi, before telling me that lots of acts want to come back to do more shows at Metronome. The Invisible Orchestra have already played twice in less than 10 months.

Another unique string to Metronome’s bow is the standard of the PA system, relative to the venue’s size. Yes, the stage is expansive, but the performance space itself is actually an intimate square space – so having such a high quality PA creates a massive, overwhelming noise. And then there’s the double whammy of visual equipment: a 10 metre-wide projector screen which takes up pretty much the whole wall behind the stage, and a separate video wall, which is made of up loads of panels. Having the option for both has paid off so far: “For the UK Young Artists (UKYA) City takeover launch, there were two audio-visual performances, and they actually told us they wouldn’t have been able to achieve that at any other venue. We want to be able to give organisations like that a real platform”, Kristi tells me. 

Beyond the prowess of the audio-visual experience, that audience focus permeates the building’s very architecture. The entrance to both the main space and the studios has a ramp, making it fully accessible for wheelchair users. Arguably disabled visitors have the best seats in the house, with a viewing area in the gallery above the auditorium for standing gigs offering a fantastic view and front row places reserved for seated gigs.

The fact that Metronome has been created by music lovers with loads of experience of going to venues - seeing what works and what doesn’t – is equally as evident in the programming. Acts from around the world have taken to the stage – BCUC from South Africa, Acid Mothers Temple from Japan – turning Metronome into a hub for international acts to come and play in Notts. There’s a lot of in-house events and promotion going on, but also collaboration; since opening, Metronome have worked with Soundstage Festival, UKYA, Wigflex, the Royal Concert Hall; the list goes on.

Metronome's atrium

Going one step further, with its strong links with Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies and NTU, Metronome and its facilities are actually helping to develop the next generation of sound engineers, music performers, and live events specialists, and in so doing, galvanising the future of the industry. It’s the same story from the performance side, too; they regularly play host to Confetti Live, BBC Introducing talent showcases and Nusic workshops, thereby providing a professional platform for emerging local talent.

So what has been the highlight for the team since opening? “UFO Orchestra was amazing. We had a big queue of people, and it was a one in one out situation. We also had some local singers taking part, which was special. Having a new venue in Notts, full of Nottingham people, was really nice”, says Kristi. But you get the sense that there have been loads of magic moments. “We’re truly multi-purpose – we can go from having our 200-capacity seated shows to a standing venue - in 20 minutes. You could come to two completely different events within two days of each other”, Kristi tells me, before recommending I come and see Sarathy Korwar in September.

And what about the ambitions for Metronome over the coming months? Continuing their dedication to audiences, the team want more and more people to come down and take a punt on the shows. And even if taking a stab in the dark isn’t your jam, they’re getting increasingly well-known acts on the bill; The Comet is Coming - which sold out in a matter of weeks - and Flamingods to name just two. Either way, Metronome is shaping up to be one of our city’s most inclusive and wide-ranging venues, which you’d be more than a bit daft to ignore.

For more info and to see what’s coming up, head to Metronome's website

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