“When we trash the place this is the first thing that’s going”. Emily Haines has only just walked out on stage and she’s not happy, the barrier between her band and the crowd provoking her ire, but in the end her declaration of intent goes unfulfilled. Still, Metric are definitely in the mood to use the intimate confines of Bar Academy to make an impression. The venue sold out some weeks ago and it’s a mystery why the show wasn’t upgraded to the Academy next door (a lesson learned perhaps – they’re playing the larger venue on the next tour later this year). As it is, the overwhelmingly young crowd are packed in to see Metric churn around their pen, Emily thrashing around like a ball of pent up of energy. But hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself. First up we were treated to a charm offensive which was all of the former and none of the latter. Scissors For Lefty took the stage and Rough Trade’s newest signings were into their stride in the time it took for Bryan Garza to smile winningly at the crowd and introduce his band of brothers. If the group was powered by Bryan’s charisma alone they’d be a force to reckon with, as it is the others have enough presence to keep pace and together they bounce around merrily to get the crowd nice and warmed up.
I have to confess to not having heard anything but the single ‘Ghetto Ways’ before this show but I’m expecting to hear more in the future. You get the impression that these guys know their Britpop and the closest touchstone seems to be Pulp, manifested particularly in Bryan’s occasional breathy singing, gesturing and the knowing wink of the songs’ lyrics.
There’s a contagious sense of fun and cheekiness too. Bryan, who might occasionally sound a little like Jarvis but looks more like (comedian) Ed Byrne, makes short work of the barrier, climbing over it to take a walk into the crowd and sing ‘Next To Argyle’ sweetly to the rapidly reddening girls in his path. Afterwards, leaving the blushing faces behind, he returns to the stage and dedicates the song to ‘the guy who walked in on me in the toilet’. Which was touching.
The set is a breezy skip through their more upbeat tunes, mixing tracks from their self-produced album ‘Bruno’ with peeks at the material from the forthcoming album including ‘Marsha’, ‘Save It Cory’ and ‘Mama Your Boys Will Find A Home‘.
Before they leave there’s time for the single, ‘Ghetto Ways‘, a harder blast of danceable indie pop than the rest of the set with a fuzzy electro refrain. Then with a grin, a wink and a wave they’re gone. Metric are a quite different proposition – angstier, more political and with a defiant snarl. That’s not to say they’re entirely humourless, although admittedly it is a surprise when the front is dropped a little and Emily slips up, laughing about mispronouncing Birmingham (much derided second city) as Burning Man (oddball festival in California). Ok, so you had to be there. The orgasmic yelps at the end of one of the songs had to be a joke though, right?
Whatever, there’s no joking to start with when the band break into the opening song, just an impressive rip of guitars and keyboard, Emily tearing into her mic and whipping her hair around as if she’s headlining Donington.The set’s a good mix of the old and new and, although the energy dips about three-quarters of the way in that’s forgotten soon enough with the double pay-off of the punky ‘Monster Hospital’ and storming ‘Dead Disco’, drawn out and embellished beyond the version appearing on ‘Old World Underground’ and so much the better for it. The set ends with a wall of noise, the band slipping gently back into melody and snatches of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, bassist Josh Winstead confidently offering his guitar to those in front of him to bring some crowd participation to bear. The barrier’s still intact and the place hasn’t been trashed but Metric exit having made their point.