For the sake of this review, we’re going to pretend that Metric has no antecedents. Blondie, Missing Persons, Kim Wilde, Romeo Void and Altered Images never existed. In a like manner, Metric’s charmingly retro stage setup—a wall of LED squares, with bonus lasers and fog—is a dewy-fresh concept and not a Gary Numan or Kraftwerk hand-me-down.
Metric gets this special treatment because they deserve it. Lots of current bands mine the 1980s for inspiration, but few do it as joyfully as this Canadian band does. Metric loves New Wave and doesn’t want it to die. And over the course of their buoyant set, they so completely reanimated the old sound that I could almost make myself believe that they own it.
And perhaps they do. Metric banged out one fierce, tuneful New Wave gem after another—“Artificial Nocturne,” “Breathing Underwater,” “Dead Disco”—and “banged” is the correct word: From the opening notes of the show to the simple, heartfelt sing-along of “Gimme Sympathy” that ended it, Metric kept its foot squarely on the accelerator. Guitarist James Shaw favored melody over showboating; bassist Joshua Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key kept the bottom end nice and fat; and singer Emily Haines set a house record for running in place while singing her heart out.
Anyway, three moments from the show stand out in my mind. One was the fist-pumping bridge of “Help I’m Alive,” during which I saw my first crowd surfer in years. The second was Haines’ gracious acceptance of a gift from someone in the audience, a book whose title I didn’t see. (“Um, it’s not poisonous, is it?”)
And the last came between the regular set and the encore, when the band left the stage, and the Numanesque stage set transformed into a giant LED clock, counting down from 150 seconds. As the clock got down to 10 seconds, the crowd excitedly counted down with it, like on New Year’s Eve. And when it reached zero, the band returned and played more songs, and you know, suddenly everything felt new again. ★★★★☆
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