Metric at The Ritz, Manchester, UK – 9th October 2015

Posted by Bianca on Friday Oct 9, 2015 Under Indie, New Wave, Rock, Synth-pop

Gig Review by John Murphy with Photography by James Bissett

Metric

Ever since they emerged from Toronto back in 1998, Metric have undergone something of an evolution. Their first album, Old World Underground Where Are You was full of fast and furious new wave indie rock, a sound perfected in 2005’s superb single Monster Hospital. Since then though, they’ve gradually introduced more electronica aspects to their sound, to the point where this year’s record Pagans In Vegas could be described as full on synth pop.

Metric

They’ve always been a somewhat frustrating proposition on record, with each album demonstrating moments of brilliance as well as a fair bit of filler. Yet, like so many other bands, it’s in the live arena where Metric really make sense, and there’s a real sense of anticipation in Manchester’s excellent Ritz venue as they take to stage, for some reason wearing animal masks and carrying flashlights.

Metric

Metric

It’s the first indication that the Metric live show is all about the visuals as well as the music – immediately after that somewhat startling entrance, lead singer Emily Haines disappears, only to return with an enormous set of illuminated peacock feathers clipped to her back for the first song, Lie Lie Lie. It’s certainly a memorable image, but it does look rather like she’s attached part of a Christmas tree to her, and it means she’s moving somewhat gingerly through that opening number.

Metric

Thankfully, after Lie Lie Lie, the peacock feathers are removed, and Haines can demonstrate what a real force of nature she can be on a stage. She’s a compelling presence, dashing around the stage, and really connecting with the audience, singing directly to some fans, and waving to others. She really knows to choreograph a crowd as well, organising a round of synchronised air-punching to Youth Without Youth, and often donning a flowing cape to dramatic effect.

Metric

With such a charismatic presence as Haines centre-stage, it would be easy to forget the male members of Metric – yet Jimmy Shaw, Joules Scott-Key and Josh Winstead are a vital if unobtrusive presence. Shaw, in particular, peels off round after round of impressive guitar solos, and even takes lead vocals on the somewhat underwhelming Pagans In Vegas track Other Side. Another track which sounds a bit flat on the album is Cascades, but that was improved immeasurably by the entire band donning Daft Punk-style illuminated shades to create a memorable visual spectacular.

Metric

Metric

The aforementioned Monster Hospital was another highlight, with Haines a whirling, high-kicking ball of kinetic energy, and the evening came to a climax with the brilliant The Shade, probably the highlight of the most recent album, sounding like Chvrches with the energy turned up to 100. The inevitable encore kept things on a high, with an epic rendition of early favourite Empty, and a raucous version of Celebrate which saw Haines disappear into the front row to high-five and hug her adoring audience.

Metric

By the time a spine-tingling, mass singalong-inducing acoustic version of Breathing Underwater brought the evening to a close, Metric had us in the palm of their hands. “This is a beautiful place, filled with amazing people… I wish we could just lift it up and take us all to Mars before, you know, the Californians get it” Haines uttered at one point. Nobody really knew what she meant, but everybody cheered nonetheless. It was that sort of evening.

Metric

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