“I’m just as f*cked up as they say.” Not a bad opening line from Metric’s charismatic frontwoman Emily Haines. And although the lyric perhaps isn’t meant to be taken literally, there was a general feeling inside the packed O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Monday that Metric should be playing bigger venues by now.
No matter. With a towering wall of colour-changing lights as backdrop, the staging could definitely fill a bigger venue. And so could the sound — thankfully there was no risk of the impressive visual spectacle overshadowing the Canadian group’s blend of synth-pop-rock.
The first half of the set was overwhelmingly filled with material from Synthetica, the band’s new album. The synth-driven tracks are heavier played live, and running so many new songs together highlighted the music’s cohesiveness rather than spotlighting any weaknesses.
New single Youth Without Youth is a real thumper, to the point where the reverberating drums came close to drowning out Haines’ voice. Other moments were less frantic. At one point, deep blue lighting transformed the former BBC Television Theatre into a fairly convincing undersea world.
Although there’s much to recommend the new material, it was only during the second half of the gig — with help from a couple of older tracks — that Haines really got the crowd moving.
Doing a distinctive knee kicking dance, it’s when she emerged from behind her twin keyboards that she was really able to connect with the front rows, moving right to the edge of the stage and even raising a tambourine as if lifting the Olympic Torch.
This is when Metric are at their best: powerful, euphoric and with Haines’ enormous personality front and centre. There’s no doubting their sincerity, and somehow even the unconventional acoustic singalong that closed the gig managed to sound uncontrived.
You can see Metric at Wireless Festival on 6 July.