No tricks, just treats: Metric’s spellbinding show at Kesselhaus der Kulturbrauerei

When you’ve released seven albums over the course of twenty years, constructing a setlist is something of a daunting task. On this occasion, Toronto-based indie rockers Metric did not disappoint, and managed to condense the highlights (and lesser-known tracks) into an energetic ninety-minute Halloween performance.

Set to the gritty backdrop of Kesselhaus der Kulturbrauerei, the raw scenery meant no unnecessary staging was required: everything was clean and simple, allowing the instruments to speak for themselves. The industrial location complemented the gig flawlessly, with the minimalist aesthetic of the band themselves fitting together perfectly with their surroundings.

Whilst continuing to play with the elusive brand of experimentation they’ve built up over the years (we’ve reluctantly made our peace with the fact that we’ll never be as effortlessly cool as lead vocalist Emily Haines), this show marked a return to their roots, with an emphasis on guitar-heavy tracks and rougher vocal delivery. It’s a welcome surprise; the guitar lines have depth and maturity (courtesy of the most excellent James Shaw), whilst the bass holds its own (hat tip to Joshua Winstead) and refuses to be overpowered.

It’s immediately apparent from the first note of Love You Back that Haines and co are seasoned performers; they manage to effortlessly hold the crowd in the palm of their hand, with a natural command of the stage most bands could only dream of. Haines explained that she felt the songs were “coming home”, as the majority of this most recent record was written in Berlin, and conveyed a genuine sense of gratitude towards the city itself. After (presumably) thousands of shows, the band know exactly how to tease their audience – they’re fully aware of what they’re expected to do, so happily refuse to do it without disappointing anyone. Breathing Underwater was received with incredible warmth: additionally, Gimme Sympathy was taken out of retirement for this concert, to the delight of the adoring congregation.

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Their never-ending love of synths is abundantly clear, with the instrument taking on its own voice, holding its own against the dry and pure vocals, as well as the battling guitar and fuzzy bass lines. It’s refreshing not to have the vocal section dominate the entire song – equal footing is given to the instrumentation, and the set is all the richer for it. The percussion is tight and slick, undoubtedly due to Joules Scott-Key’s expertise in this field.

These are people who know their craft inside out and backwards, and it really shows

Crowd-pleasers Black Sheep, Now or Never Now and Gold Guns Girls make their dutiful appearance, accompanied by little-known gems such as Monster Hospital and Risk. Of course, a Metric set wouldn’t be complete without a stellar performance of Dead Disco, and the version we were treated to last night was as vibrant and full of vigour as you could hope – the quartet appear completely at home on stage, seeming utterly nonchalant. No surprises there – these are people who know their craft inside out and backwards, and it really shows.

Concluding on a high note with a fiery rendition of Help I’m Alive, the energy Metric started the show with is upheld until the end. There’s always a risk with Halloween concerts – it’s not uncommon for uninterested revellers to show up to a venue just for the sake of doing something in the evening. This certainly wasn’t the case with Metric; it appeared that every member of the audience was there because they sincerely love and support the band, and wanted to show their appreciation in person. Despite a sweaty hour-and-a-half in a room where hundreds of adoring fans were packed like sardines, seemingly constantly declaring their love for Haines, the band maintained composure and ultimately delivered a faultless set. If you, dear reader, ever have the opportunity to see them live, please grab it with both hands – unless you’re not a fan of delay pedals. Then you should avoid them like the plague.

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