“I’m just as fucked up as they say,” purred Emily Haines into the mic as the Toronto quartet burst onstage at Sydney’s Hi-Fi on Thursday night.
It was midweek, it was freezing outside and the band had been testing the waters just beyond the point of fashionably late, but none of that mattered anymore because the foxy starlet had us completely under her spell right from the off. Haines oozes that onstage appeal rocked by the likes of Karen O or Alison Goldfrapp, tinged with a hint of girlie innocence, while her vocals bounce between eerily childish and downright sexy. And for a moment, you forget that the latest studio album, ‘Synthetica’, is Metric’s fifth because it would be easy to mistake the blond siren for an angsty teen, tortured by the perils of adolescence.
Everything was set for a high energy evening of indie-synth; the band was tight, the venue was packed and the sound was great, but either the plaintiveness of ‘Artificial Nocturne’ had rubbed off on the crowd or else people were painfully unfamiliar with the new material, because instead of forming a sea of fist-pumping and booty-shaking that the music called for, a disheartening portion of concert-goers remained completely static for a good smattering of songs.
Seemingly unfazed by the lack of visual reaction, Metric pulled a blinder of a set out of the bag. Haines was in fine voice, sometimes dancing maniacally around the front of the stage touting a tambourine, other times standing bent over her keyboard in solid concentration, while at either side bassist Josh Winstead and guitarist James Shaw stood grinning for the entire show.
By the time Canada’s sweethearts switched the mood from downright dark to whimsical with the sugary, tinkling rhythm of ‘Lost Kitten’, the crowd started to warm to the music, but it wasn’t until Haines started growling “My heart is beating like a hammer,” over Joules Scott-Key’s furious drumming in ‘Help I’m Alive’ that the good times really kicked off. Fan favorite ‘Dead Disco’ had the entire floor pounding with stomping feet, while’Breathing Under Water’ and another oldie “Gold Guns Girls’ were welcome additions to the set as well.
Because Haines has that magnetic rock-chick persona down to a tee, it’s difficult not to want more, not to wish for some sort of verbal acknowledgement from the frontwoman who barely said two words to the crowd during the set. Thankfully, it’s a point that Haines herself decided to clear up during the encore.
“I always feel like everyone wants me to say something, but I always think that there is enough talking in the world, I like to let the lyrics do the talking,” she gushed, before breaking into the final song with Shaw, a gorgeous acoustic version of ‘Gimme Sympathy’ that had every vocal cord in the building straining along with her.
“Who would you rather be, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?” she posed. And there was a massive grin plastered on her face because everybody already knows her answer: neither, Metric is exactly where this lady needs to be.
Reviewer: Kerrie Kennedy Photos: Kyleigh Pitcher