Metric picked the perfect place to launch its North American tour when choosing Buffalo, New York. Not only was half of the Town Ballroom filled with Canadians, but Buffalonians are raised on Canadian radio and music as well, so they already knew the score. Buffalo is right on the Canadian/American border and affectionately holds bands not only like Metric, but Broken Social Scene, Stars and The Tragically Hip close to their hearts. Fans come out in droves and appreciate the true musical inventions coming from north of the border. If anything they are partially Canadian, swigging their Labatt Blue Lights and enjoying hockey more than football. So it was easy for Metric to feel perfectly at home for the first stop on their tour.
Playing to a packed, sold-out theater, Metric, led by the dynamic Emily Haines, blew through much of its repertoire off the new album, Fantasies, released back in April 2009. Fantasies is a strong album, highlighted with not only the danceable tracks Metric is best known for, but darker, rock-infused-pop greats.
Haines dazzled the retinas of the audience wearing an all-blue-sequin minidress and gold booties. She played the role of female indie rock star well, and positioned herself behind the keyboards. Much of the time the Town Ballroom stage felt like the set of a music video, with Haines’ hair blowing from a wind that didn’t have a visible source. Her natural voice and beauty hypnotized the audience, and while the band at times seemed album-perfect, Haines worked to maintain an almost mystical connection with the audience. A purple halo of fog swirled over the heads of Metric, continuously making the crowd forget they were in a beat-up, time-worn theater.
The band breezed through many of the songs off Fantasies including “Help, I’m Alive”, “Satellite Mind”, “Gold Guns Girls”, “Gimme Sympathy”, “Sick Muse” and “Stadium Love”. They also included older favorites including “Empty”, “Dead Disco” and “Monster Hospital”.
On “Poster of a Girl” the band exploded, producing what was some of the best sound of the night in the venue, where sound is not delivered at a premium. Haines was at her best crooning the hit from Metric’s 2006 release Live It Out.
Haines is truly on the cusp of the best female rock performers. She moves much like her predecessors, Shirley Manson, Blondie and even Gwen Stefani, with a comparative “it” factor. Her appearance is messy, yet dynamic, and her performance is always ethereal. The release of Fantasies may have her and the band in the best deliverance yet, with its deep energy and explosive highs and lows.
Guitarist James Shaw co-piloted with enthusiasm throughout the performance. His guitar solos were excellent, combining a Zeppelin-esque technique with modern hype.
The band moved with the audience during “Collect Call”, feeling the closeness of Haines throughout the soul of the ballad. She radiated every facial emotion, bringing the audience a sense of closeness, a feeling of floating on air, much like a modern Stevie Nicks. She continued this while going forward with “Empty”, also off of Live It Out, not only maneuvering through a dreamlike state, but punctuating with her signature shoulder shakes throughout the pointed chorus.
The band also gave a nod to its Canadian counterpart Neil Young by breaking into “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)” before transitioning into an explosion of energy with its recent hit, “Gimmie Sympathy”, and asking the crowd “Who you’d rather be? / The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?”
Metric rounded the evening out with energetic bam-pow renditions of “Dead Disco”, the newer “Stadium Love”, and “Monster Hospital” which had the whole floor jumping. The set ended with a lovely acoustic version of Metric’s breakthrough hit “Combat Baby”.
Preceding Metric was buzz group Band of Skulls. The set was not impressive, and rather cliché with predictable Kings of Leon type riffs. It didn’t seem to match the sound or energy of Metric at all, and many seemed to be confused as to why they were there.