Metric - Shepherds Bush Empire, London 02/07/12
Photos by Eleonora Collini
As much as the snob in me always prefers seeing bands I love in an intimate setting, there’s something about the Canadian quartet that fits an expansive, intricately lit stage and a dedicated, boisterous crowd like a well-worn glove.
Shepherds Bush Empire was packed to the rafters on the drizzly Monday evening with fans eagerly awaiting some of the first live renditions of new album Synthetica and, no doubt, the usual hits. Only, with this being their fifth full-length, it’s hard for Metric to play anything close to all of their, let alone the fans' favourites.
Nevertheless, they kicked off with the first six tracks of the aforementioned latest in sequence, at which I realised just how elegantly simple the compositions are (and have always been). As ever though, the goddess, in this case frontwoman Emily Haines, is in the details.
And she didn't disappoint. Emily clearly still lives and breathes the show, the performance; hands on hips, hair flicked back and forth, a little head-banging, the odd bunny-hop, and most importantly on-point vocals in her trademark husky drawl despite all the theatrics. The creative partnership of Emily and Jimmy Shaw have always had real swagger on-stage but not for a minute could you believe it’s mere posturing; they're just a band that love what they do, and the lasting impression is of a kind of charming, childish cool.
Outside of Synthetica was the inevitable rendition of 'Monster Hospital', 'Help, I'm Alive' and 'Stadium Love' and the odd nod to 'Live It Out', all characterized by the pulsing, thumping rhythms occasionally glossed over on their studio-recorded counterparts. Sadly (no pleasing everyone) this was a high-impact set and therefore 'Grow Up and Blow Away' as well as 'Old World Underground' were absent; then again, a final, closing acoustic duet between Jimmy and Emily of 'Gimme Sympathy' was a pleasant, tender surprise.
Emily's slightly mad patter about hoping our souls survive the next ten years and her seque into an absent minded warning about mercury levels in Salmon was a pleasant surprise of another kind; Synthetica especially deals with some poignant issues around humanity and modernity, but for all that, Metric remember that a little tongue-in-cheek rocking out is sometimes the most powerful message of all.
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