Review: Metric @ The Ritz, Manchester

As the opening band Tvvins packed away their equipment, the stage at The Ritz last night was left mostly bare apart from four sequinned fluffy synths and a drum kit.

Anticipation built as the lights dimmed and a monologue blasted from the PA telling us that tonight was about ‘getting back to the essence of who we are’, whilst four odd looking characters crept out of the mist wearing animal masks and waving flashlights.

The rabbit lifted the mask to reveal bassist Josh Winstead, the lion was drummer Joules Scott-Key, the deer was guitarist and synth-man Jimmy Shaw, and the rainbow unicorn was the fantastic Emily Haines, frontwoman.

Together they were Metric.

Vanishing briefly into the shadows, Emily returned to the stage wearing a neon-lit peacock tail as the band burst into Lie Lie Lie, the first track of new album Pagans in Vegas.

Backlit Emily’s peacock tail cast a nightmarish shadow over the rafters, swaying back and forth as she sang ‘naked in the movie, make me the directors pet’, blasting selling out in the entertainment industry – something that Metric somehow have never even seemed to consider in their 17-year career.

For their second song, Fortunes, Emily ditched the tail and took on a more husky tone in the verse, documenting an abusive relationship before bursting into the impassioned chorus backed by strobes.

Help I’m Alive was a familiar favourite for the crowd and sparked a wave of fist-pumping with each chorus of ‘help I’m alive, my heart keeps beating like a hammer’ but the climax of the evening was the Daft Punk-esque performance of the ‘pounding heart’ of the new album, Cascades.

A complex light show began behind the drum kit, the band were all wearing LED lit glasses and Emily in a neon green cape was swaying almost in slow motion through the strobes as she told us to ‘keep, going on, with whatever it is, that’s compelling you on’.

Before their encore, Emily jumped off the stage and ran up and down the front row of the crowd dishing out high fives and hugs before climbing back up, whispering a ‘thank you’ to the security man who gave her a leg up, and standing arms outstretched to a massive cheer.

She peered at the crowd through the smoke and said, ‘When I look out all I see is your spirit animals, there are a lot of deers surprisingly,’ and the crowd, slightly perplexed, cheered anyway.

Really, the whole night was Metric showing us their spirit animals.

The four Canadians used a plethora of digital tools – synths, strobes, LEDs, even a theremin at one point, melded together with old-fashioned instruments, costumes, and pure skill – to let Manchester know that the fusion of man and machine, if done right, can put on an incredible show. 

Image courtesy of Paul Griffiths (orezlyrad), via YouTube, with thanks.

Related Articles