The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park, Sydney is a sea of activity as the Splendour sideshows roll into town. In one corner of the heavyweight bout we have Jack White at the Horden Pavilion. In the opposite corner we have Canadian quartet Metric at the HiFi. Choosing to sit in the corner of the female-led Metric, also means seeing the beautiful Emily Haines.
Ballarat band Gold Fields support tonight and they have been carving out a name for themselves ever since they hit the scene. Thanks to Triple J’s regular airplay of ‘Treehouse’ and ‘Moves’, the punters warm to their infectious dance-pop and high energy. It’ll be fun to see where this band is in a year or two.
Metric are on our shores in support of fifth album, Synthetica and once on stage get straight down to business. They start off with album opener ‘Artificial Nocturne’, a slow-burning synth-pop number with provocative lyrics “I’m just as fucked up as they say.” It’s followed by the band’s latest single ‘Youth Without Youth’ with Haines’ auto-tuned voice accompanied by thumping drums and powerful guitar chords.
The first half of the set is filled with material from the new album. Synthetica is nothing too radical in the electro-rock department and when these pop songs are delivered by a frontwoman like Haines, it’s hard to fail. Her charisma and enormous personality switches from anguished expressions (much like Beth Gibbons of Portishead), to the sex kitten dancing across the stage with ease – sporting a pair of short-shorts that’d give own Kylie a good run for her money.
The synth-driven tracks feel heavier live thanks to the reverberating drums and some songs are extended with showcased instrumental sections. They continue to pump through their latest album only to drop their biggest single “Help I’m Alive” mid-way through the set.
Haines breathless voice singing “Help, I’m alive, my heart keeps/beating like a hammer/beating like a hammer” bounces off the walls of the venue as lead guitarist James Shaw shreds away at the massive riffs. It’s from this point that Haines really gets the crowd moving.
Metric deliver the new songs in a cohesive manner and there’s a feeling that their sound would sit nicely in a larger arena setting. A real set highlight was ‘Breathing Underwater’ with its piano driven melody as Haines declares “Is this my life? / am I breathing underwater” – it feels personal yet anthemic. ‘
Dead Disco’ has frenetic paced drumming and is almost an ode to the current rock scene where bands are trying to adapt to survive, as Haines sings “I know, I know you tried to change things/ I know you tried to change/ I know”.
The best songs, however still come from previous release Fantasies and the encore includes both ‘Gold Girl Guns’ and an acoustic ‘Gimme Sympathy’ from the record. It’s at this point Haines explains their intentions are to interact via the music and lyrics – “less talking and more music… there’s too much talking nowadays”.
With the acoustic sing-a-long closing the gig, there’s no doubting their sincerity with lyrics like “After all of this is gone/ who’d you rather be?/ The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?/ oh, seriously/ you’re gonna make mistakes, you’re young/ come on, baby, play me somethin’/ like, “Here Comes the Sun”. Metric are euphoric and tonight they gave us a good dose of the ‘everything is going to be alright’ pill.
– Jeffers Chew