By: Adam Harrison –
Female indie rock prowless ruled at the Air Canada Centre last night when Toronto got a double dose of female-led indie rock bands Metric and Stars, who proved they were both fit for arena rock.
Stars opened the evening when co-lead singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell stormed into The North’s opening track “The Theory of Relativity” which provided an energetic start to their set. Although Millan did a stand up job herself, she was more reserved in comparison to Campbell, who stole the thunder during the set, while using every ounce of enthusiasm to dance and sing along in his grey business suit. Throughout Stars’ 45 minute set, they reached back as far as their acclaimed 2004 album Set Yourself On Fire with tracks like “Ageless Beauty,” and “Soft Revolution,” during which they switched up the lyrics from “of the velvet underground” to “old world underground” in reference to Metric’s debut album of the same name. During the final moments of their set, Campbell emotionally pleaded with the audience to “keep investing in art,” a sentiment that wasn’t lost on the indie rock loving crowd.
Metric opened their 100-minute set with the first song from Synthetica, “Artificial Nocturne” and the controversial opening line “I’m just as fucked up as they say” which echoed throughout the stadium. It was then followed by a slew of other new material including Synthetica’s first single, “Youth Without Youth.”
What made all the difference was the outstanding performance and presence of front woman, Emily Haines. The fashion forward singer’s voice spread evocatively throughout the arena, and so perfectly on key that it sent shivers down your spine. She has become a leading lady that could one day live up to legends like Stevie Nicks or Madonna.
Metric has always had success in Canada, but it has skyrocketed stateside in popularity in recent years, including with their 2009 album Fantasies, which performed well both on Canadian and U.S. music charts. Therefore it was no surprise that more than three quarters of the set came from that period in their career.
Through the latter half of their main set, Haines and company drove the crowd into a frenzy with sing-a-long tracks like “Help, I’m Alive,” “Sick Muse,” and the latest single, “Breathing Underwater.” They then burst into one of their wildist songs “Dead Disco,” from their first album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? This was followed by “Stadium Love” the habitual crowd pleaser and set closer, which had everyone on their feet and dancing their inhibitions away.
After a brief break and malfunction with the lighted countdown display, Metric began their encore with their breakthrough single “Monster Hospital,” from 2005’s Live Out Loud, and “Gold Gun Girls” with an extended wailing guitar solo from guitarist Jimmy Shaw.
Once Shaw’s intense riffing subsided, fans were treated to an intimate acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy,” arguably Metric’s biggest hit. It has become a modern day “Layla” debate on whether you prefer the electric or acoustic version and it seems the fans appreciated the stripped-down quality of the acoustic version. It was a risky choice to end the show on an acoustic cover, but it paid off because it cemented Metric as a band who refuses to rely on synth-driven dance tracks because they can also provide intimately beautiful arrangements when called for.
What was a spot-on performance, especially from Haines, it will only continue to boost Metric’s success and put Canadian music on the map. Metric has grown as a band significantly over their decade existence and have now proven they are worthy of “stadium love.”
Metric Set-List Stars Set-List
- Artificial Nocturne 1. The Theory of Relativity
- Youth Without Youth 2. Fixed
- Speed the Collapse (With Outro) 3. A Song Is a Weapon
- Dreams So Real (Remix) 4. Ageless Beauty
- Satellite Mind 5. The North
- Lost Kitten 6. We Don’t Want Your Body
- Empty (Extended Bridge) 7. Midnight Coward
- Help I’m Alive 8. Soft Revolution
- Synthetica 9. Backlines
- Clone 10. Take Me to the Riot
- Breathing Underwater 11. Hold On When You Get Love
- Sick Muse
- Dead Disco (Extended Outro)
- Stadium LoveEncore:
- Black Sheep
- Monster Hospital
- Gold Guns Girls (Extended Guitar Solo)
- Gimme Sympathy (Acoustic)