Metric at Shepherds Bush Empire
Apparently it was Canada Day on Sunday. So what better way to belatedly celebrate than to head on down to Shepherds Bush to watch Canadian songsters Metric.
I’ve been a big fan of Metric for a few years now, and since, select numbers from their 2009 album Fantasies caused them to be lodged in my skull for weeks on end. To channel all of the Metric loving, I used them as my go-to running music, and everything was fine. Fantasies is a great running album; good tempo, strong beats, plenty of synth and lyrics interesting enough to mull over.
Eventually, my Metric addiction was quenched and the running, like all exercise regimes, came to an end. Then last week they released another album, Synthetica, and the whole nightmare has started again.
Naturally, I jumped at the chance to see them live, and I wasn’t disappointed. Metric were clearly pleased to be in London, and the appreciative audience got behind them with gusto. After starting with the new material, they moved on to some of the classics. The band teased out the catchy moments from the new album; especially, title track Synthetica and the single Youth Without Youth. That track was a tour de force from a band that somehow manages to be delicate yet powerful, brash yet polite and driving yet melodic. “Rubber soul with a razorblade”, screamed frontwoman Emily Haines, in a typically witty, enigmatic line.
This line, in fact, encapsulates a show that married intellectual integrity with powerful, occasionally angry music. Haines mixed poetic lyrics with a penchant for monologues in a performance that must have been powered by its own nuclear facility, while guitarist James Shaw pulled out some virtuoso, if slightly disturbing, solos. At times he sounded like Hendrix playing The Ting Tings. The levels were a little off for some of the synths, but bassist/synth man Joshua Winstead made the best of it. Drummer, Joules Scott-Key completed the ensemble with panache.
It has to be said that Synthetica has fewer stand out moments than Fantasies and the earlier albums Grow Up and Blow Away and Old World Underground. Despite a heroic effort from the band the crowd did not really get going until later on in the set. If the opening half was a little heavy on the new material then it was more than compensated for by an electrifying series of numbers in the second. Help I’m Alive pulled in some of the largest cheers while Sick Muse pulled in some of the most manic dancing. By the end, the effort being exerted at the front of the crowd put my running to shame.
Metric saved the best til last. The turbocharged performance of Gold Guns Girls was sublime, while an acoustic, sing-along Gimme Sympathy ensured that the crowd left with a warm, fuzzy glow in their heart and a song stuck in their head.
Happy belated Canada Day one and all!
Photos: Goncalo Miller
Watch the video for Synthetica here: