Metric front woman Emily Haines has a bold and seductive stage presence that can woo an audience of any age. In front of me, an elementary schooler sat on the hip of his father. To my left, an older grey-haired man rocked out with his 40-something girlfriend. And me? I’m a 25-year-old who started listening to Metric in high school. The band’s sound sure has changed since I last saw it play the Starlight Ballroom in 2006 – but Emily Haines’ persona has not.
Metric kicked off the show with four songs from their most recent release, Synthetica, starting with its opening track, “Artificial Nocturne.” The band then flipped the switch to its older sound and the audience hollered along with “Empty” from 2005’s Live It Out. Haines grabbed a tambourine and encouraged the crowd to sing along with the “ba da ba ba” hook. With her hands on her hips and blonde hair whipping, she shook her head back and forth with the beat. During “Help, I’m Alive,” Haines’ eyes grew wide with intensity. We didn’t see her crack a smile until after “Breathing Underwater,” when she addressed the audience. “Well, well, well,” she said with a grin, “we’re back in Philly. It’s been awhile, huh?” (Fun fact: Emily Haines’ parents were married at the First Unitarian Church. Perhaps that’s why she has an affinity towards our city.)
Haines admired the Tower Theater for its history and beauty before breaking the mood with “Sick Muse” from 2009’s Fantasies. “Dead Disco” came next, a major hit from 2003’s Old World Undergound, Where Are You Now? and a much harder sounding song than their more recent singles. The audience took that post-punk energy with them into “Stadium Love,” jumping up and down, fists in the air.
The encore was epic. Re-emerging with “Black Sheep,” a track from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World soundtrack, Metric made its way into “Monster Hospital,” another hit from Live it Out. “The Wanderlust” was missing Lou Reed’s signature voice (couldn’t a bandmate have filled in for him?) but sounded great nonetheless. Metric invited opening band, Montreal’s Half Moon Run, to join them for “Pale Blue Eyes,” a Velvet Underground cover.
“Can you imagine a world without music?” Haines asked the audience before closing with an acoustic rendition of “Gimme Sympathy.” “It would be like living in a constant state of bad lighting and drop ceilings.”
Haines asked the audience to sing along towards the end. The Tower filled with voices, all echoing the song’s closing line: “Come on baby play me something / like ‘Here Comes the Sun.’”
Imagine a world without music? I wouldn’t even want to try.
1. Artificial Nocturne
2. Youth Without Youth
3. Speed the Collapse
4. Dreams So Real
6. Help, I’m Alive
9. Breathing Underwater
10. Sick Muse
11. Dead Disco
12. Stadium Love
13. Black Sheep
14. Monster Hospital
15. The Wanderlust
16. Pale Blue Eyes (Velvet Underground cover with Half Moon Run)
17. Gold Gun Girls
18. Gimme Sympathy (Acoustic)
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