First Metronome festival draws 7,500 fans

Rain cut short Iggy Pop's set, but otherwise the inaugural edition hit mostly high notes

The first Metronome Festival drew some 7,500 visitors over the weekend of June 25–26. After a long heatwave, sporadic rain and some lightning caused a few minor problems but overall the festival, held in Prague's Výstaviště fairgrounds in Prague's Holešovice district, went off as expected.

The festival's sister event, the United Islands festival, which offered free music along the city's waterfront, saw more than 50,000 visitors.

The highlight of Metronome was Iggy Pop on Saturday night. He played mostly songs from his solo career. Organizers moved up the start of the show by 15 minutes due to weather warnings, which turned out to be good because organizers had to end the show early once the rains came.

Iggy apologized over Facebook. “Dear Prague Fans, I was gonna play 2 songs from old Stooges when the storm hit. When I come back I will start the concert exactly where we left off. I had a great night anyway. Iggy,” he said.

At the end of the show, his mic was open when he spoke to organizers, he made an honest effort to have the show continue but went along with the concern for safety.

Based on the tour so far, the songs that were cut were “Search and Destroy” and “Down on the Street,” and possibly one more encore song like “Wild America.”

The set did have 17 songs, kicking off with “No Fun” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and including favorites like “The Passenger,” “Lust for Life” and “Repo Man.”

As expected, Iggy performed shirtless and went down into the audience a couple of times, even stopping to sign a vinyl copy of his album The Idiot.

Iggy, at 69, showed no signs of slowing down and was all over the stage, engaging with the audience, though he did sit down for the relatively slow song “Nightclubbing” and was noticeably limping a bit.

When he will return to Prague to fulfill his promise to sing the final songs is uncertain. He announced recently that he would be scaling back on touring.

People taking refuge from the rain wound up at the two indoor stages, one of which had an impressive set by electro-swing band Mydy Rabycad.

The festival schedule also included Ivan Král, who plaid guitar in 1979–81 on the albums Soldier and Party, but he and Iggy Pop did not appear together. The highlight of Král's set on Sunday was “Danging Barefoot,” a Patti Smith song. Aside from working with Iggy Pop, Král was in Patti Smith's band in the 1970s.

Král appeared on stage with Czech theater and music legend Jiří Suchý, whose career goes back to 1944 as a child actor.

The first star to play the main stage on Saturday was Ella Eyre, coming on just after another rainstorm. Possibly due to that her set lost audio twice. She carried on like a trouper, though, getting back into high-energy mode quickly.

She introduced some new material she has recorded for her second album such as the song “Hideaway” and did her hits “Gravity” and “If I Go.”

The final big act on Saturday was The Kooks, who played 14 songs, closing with their most popular live song, “Naive” from their debut album Inside In/Inside Out.

Sunday was headlined by The Foals, whose set featured a somewhat psychedelic light show. Lead vocalist Yannis Philippakis near the end let himself be body passed by the front audience.

Earlier that day, Crystal Fighters played the main stage with an upbeat show of dance music, throwing giant beach balls out into the crowd.

The biggest Czech name on the lineup was JAR, which performed a funky set with a gospel choir Sunday afternoon. The group features Roman Holý and Dan Bárta.

One of the finds of the festival was Israeli guitarist and singer Ninet, who had one of the festival's more hard-rocking sets. She played on the secondary stage on Sunday afternoon, initially to a rather small crowd but it increased a lot by the end. She is considered one of Israel's top acts, but her fame has not spread to Europe thus far.

After The Foals set ended on Sunday, organizers announced that the second Metronome Festival would take place at the end of June 2017 and have even better acts.

But how they can something better than Iggy Pop signing his classic solo hits remains to be seen.

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