Some hot bands move from the clubs to theaters and fizzle like wet firecrackers, but Metric steadily burned brighter and brighter Tuesday night at the State Theatre. Not that the concert – only about three-quarters-full attendance-wise -- wouldn’t have fit better at First Avenue, something that frontwoman Emily Haines herself seemed to be thinking when she shared fond memories of playing the club. “You end up feeling like family” at a venue like that, she said, reminiscing about the year they played with Ike Reilly on Thanksgiving and “were taken in like homeless people; which we kind of were.”
Still, with a grander light show and more songs that edged into dramatic arena-rock territory, Metric proved ready and able to graduate to the theater on Tuesday. The Toronto quartet’s 90-minute set started just as the new album “Synthetica” begins, with the droning, self-inflicting opener “Artificial Nocturne” followed by the grindingly rhythmic, futuristic rockers “Youth Without Youth” and “Speed the Collapse.” Things really didn’t get going till a few songs later, though. Haines worked the stage like Debbie Harry in the attitudinal epic “Empty,” cocking her head to and fro and strutting around with her microphone and tambourine. This built up the energy level for a blowout with the band’s desperate 2009 hit, “Help, I’m Alive.”
The second half of the show was laden with more fast and snarly fare, including the pre-encore finish “Stadium Love,” in which Haines shook hands with the front row in coyly stiff-handed Queen Elizabeth fashion. Dropped into that simmering mix, though, were two mellower tunes where emotions seemed to boil over.
The first came in “Breathing Underwater,” an ‘80s-styled power ballad off “Synthetica” that found Haines channeling her inner Bono to great effect -- a comparison that seemed apt given guitarist James Shaw’s understated, shadowy, Edge-like orchestration of the atmospheric sound throughout the show. Then things turned all warm and fuzzy for the encore finale, when it was just Shaw and Haines – and the audience – singing out the words to “Gimme Sympathy.” A campfire would have been a more fitting location than either a theater or First Ave in that case.
Click here for a photo gallery from the show. Here's the set list:
Artificial Nocturne / Youth Without Youth / Speed the Collapse / Dreams So Real / Lost Kitten / Empty / Help, I’m Alive / Synthetica / Clone / Breathing Underwater / Sick Muse / Dead Disco / Stadium Love ENCORE: Monster Hospital / Gold Guns Girls / Gimme Sympathy