LIVE: Meet Me In St Louis / TTNG / Vincent Vocoder Voice @ The Dome, London

By Ben Tipple

Nine years since calling it a day, then Guildford based math-rock pioneers find themselves in-front of a larger crowd than ever before. Struggling to fill small venues at the time of their demise, the news of their return was met with pockets of pure jubilation. Their one-off reunion show morphed quickly into a handful of dates, even reaching outside of the originally scheduled London location.

That excitement has persisted until tonight. As openers Vincent Vocoder Voice present an exhilarating experimental take on the unconventional structures championed by tonight’s headliners, the room is already at fever pitch. Not least are old friends reuniting. Tonight is as much a reunion for these music lovers as it is for Meet Me In St Louis, in itself evidence of their far-reaching influence above and beyond the band’s musical contemporaries. This retrospection isn’t lost on TTNG, who welcome their former vocalist Stuart Smith to the stage for some particularly well received tracks. Although opting to close on a new number, tonight is above all an homage to a defining era.

Why now? It’s undoubtedly a question that’s been playing on the minds of the members of Meet Me In St Louis. Few had expected the response to the show’s announcement, and perhaps fewer could anticipate the powerful atmosphere enveloping The Dome as the headliners take to the stage. Spurred on by label Big Scary Monsters’ desire to reunite a band of such personal importance, the logistics are merely circumstantial. The response is anything but.

In their absence, Meet Me In St Louis have grown in both their musical ability and as an inspiration. Having unconsciously encouraged a whole wealth of bands, the significance that has been placed on their back-catalogue has expanded exponentially since their disbandment, a fact written all over their gleaming faces as they deliver their tracks with staggering skill. That skill is met by passion, both from the band and their adoring audience. The crowd sings back every word, pausing at each expertly presented musical break as dictated by the band’s mind-boggling time signatures.

For many this is the first opportunity to see the material live, having been drawn into Meet Me In St Louis more recently by bands and fans who rightly celebrate them as math-rock royalty. Yet perhaps what has led the band here, more so than that, is their proficient blend of various musical styles that have only become more prominent since 2008; styles that owe more than they might think to the understated success of Meet Me In St Louis.

Regardless of why it’s happening now, it is and it’s wonderful. Far more than a show, it’s a celebration of an integral musical generation. Tonight has reunited far more than just a band, simultaneously rekindling friendships and passions based around an innovative musical movement that has given so much to the British scene and beyond. And still the band remain innovative. Back-dropped by sprawling digital art, their sound remains as exciting, fresh and masterful as it did back then. Even the many who have found inspiration in Meet Me In St Louis’ sound are merely scratching at the door of the band’s musical achievements. Tonight is testament to that.