The Opera House in Toronto, ON
June 12, 2012
Review by: Colton Eddy
Photos by: Adam Pulicicchio
"I'm not as fucked up as they say", promised Metric's lead Emily Haines, as she cried over the heavy synthed tones of "Artificial Nocturne" before a crowd full of friends, family, and an enthusiastic cluster of contest-winners.
Immediately, one thing was certain: Metric's new sound and look is headed in the right direction.
Following an abrupt stop several songs into their set to adjust mic glitches, the intimacy of the tight invite-only "secret" show was soon set. This hometown performance marked the release of their fifth LP Synthetica and the band appeared to be as excited as the crowd was.
Haines seductively strutted around to the throbbing lights of The Opera House stage as she slapped her tambourine like Stevie Knicks had just met Thom Yorke. The new single "Youth Without Youth" was the second song of the night, with drummer Joules Scott-Keys maintaining a tightly knit backbeat and a satisfied smirk, marching with some Kraftwerk-like background vocals supplied by bassist Josh Winstead. The group ripped through the first five songs of the new album, which are melodically manufactured in such a way that even though they were basically premiering, the crowd was chanting the choruses by the second refrain.
Throughout the night, composure and intensity were equally balanced by Haines and co-founder Jimmy Shaw as the band mixed in well-traveled standards like "Empty", "Dead Disco" and "Hustle Rose". At this point, Haines was noticeably more comfortable, luring attention with the familiar tunes that inspired her to toy more with the audience. Doing so gave a chance to put their work into perspective: from their homegrown indie rock to the hits off 2008's Fantasies, they've arrived at a propelling crossroads.
After a blistering rendition of "Stadium Love", the group walked off stage and allowed the feedback to rise as a two-minute countdown took over the backdrop. The crowd shouted out the last few seconds before the band performed favourites "Help I'm Alive" and "Monster Hospital".
Haines caught her breath, waving away her tears as she thanked the band's families, Amy Millan and other musician friends and, in a humanizing moment, she explained, "I can't play music and not feel something." Fans and friends alike applauded her into comfort and she responded in her full-gauge front-woman grit, "Now here's an acoustic version of our maximum fucking hit 'Gimme Sympathy'."
With Shaw strumming his acoustic, the rest of the band joined Haines as everyone in The Opera House transformed into a choir of shattered harmonies. For the first time in their set, they shut off the strobe-light dreamworld and proved that, although they can slaughter arena-ready jams, Metric can offer up maximum fucking hits in the rawest form. They're well on their way to selling out arenas without selling out.
Youth Without Youth
Speed the Collapse
Dreams So Real
Nothing But Time
Gold Guns Girls
Help, I'm Alive
Gimme Sympathy (Acoustic)