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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Measuring Metric

Posted on Wed, Sep 20, 2006 at 8:32 PM

(Sorry for the late post -- I've been out of the office this week. TT) Metric finally made it to Halifax and let everyone know what the fuss was about.

The Toronto-based quartet hit the Halifax Forum Multi-Purpose Room around 10pm on September 15 after a rousing set from local band The Stance. Clad in matching snake-skin style shirt and shorts jumpsuit with Robin Hood-style boots, the sight of Emily Haines and company had the near capacity all-ages crowd screaming as the band kicked into a high energy version of Live it Out opener "Empty".

Haines quickly made apparent her frontperson prowess, accentuating her lyrics with bionic robot moves, head spins and pogo jumps. And that was just the first song. By the end of the night, both band and audience were sweaty, spent and ecstatic.

After "Empty" sufficiently juiced the crowd, Metric broke into the one-two punch of the great power-pop protest "Succexy," followed by the second Live it Out single, "Poster of a Girl," which has grown into a killer live track. The next several songs were all from Live it Out, including the slower "Ending/Start" and "Patriarch on a Vespa." The opening set ended just as it started with a spirited "Combat Baby," a song that remains one of Metric's best.

After a quick encore break, the Halifax crowd got the recent NME Single of the Week and MMVA winning "Monster Hospital," followed by the unreleased, but well-received (and from the amount of kids singing, well-downloaded) "Soft Rock Star." The mandatory 10-minute breakdown of "Dead Disco" completed a night of revelry, with crowd surfers and claustrophobic kids dropping into the pit at a furious pace.

The set also included rarely played "A Maid Needs a Maid," a track from Haines' album Knives Don't Have Your Back -- released last week -- and the aforementioned favourite "Soft Rock Star" from their unreleased debut album Grow Up and Blow Away.

If there were any complaints on this evening, they would include a short setlist and too much separation between the musicians and spectators.

The first might have something to do with the early community noise curfew and the fact that Metric has spent the summer playing shorter festival sets, not as headliners as they were on this night. The fact that they can fill a venue with thousands of screaming (and mostly teenaged) fans, means they might have to consider tacking on more songs to the show, and especially more from the largely ignored breakthrough record Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?.

The second complaint is more an issue with the venue accommodating a band that requires more immediacy with its fans in order to kick the unbridled excitement up a notch. The gap between the stage and the barriers was much too wide and cut down on any chance of Haines interacting more with the adoring ticket payers. It's obvious from the packed house that Haines has a forum to speak her mind. With so many teenaged girls in the audience, there's room to impress upon malleable minds, especially with lyrics that skewer the current state of consumer-suburban culture. Someone hand the reins of power over to Haines quick. And if its ever-increasing prowess as songwriters and performers are any indication, it's only time before we consider Metric one of the best bands the world has to offer, not just Canada.

Johnston Farrow

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