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13th February 2023

Live review: Metric at Manchester Academy 2

Metric bring the energy to Manchester Academy 2
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Live review: Metric at Manchester Academy 2
Photo: Ailish O’Leary Austin

Metric are one of the more underrated bands on the North American indie rock circuit. They’ve been about for years, and have dropped a fair few bangers in their time. Arguably their closest soundalikes are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – the presence of a strong female vocalist in Emily Haines gives real Karen O vibes. When married to ominous basslines and strong riffs, you really get a sense of Fever to Tell from their music.

Tracks like ‘Gold Guns Girls’ and ‘Help I’m Alive’ from their 2009 album Fantasies, arguably Metric’s best release to date, best sum up their style. In the summer, they dropped Formentera, their eighth studio album, and subsequently have toured in support of it.

After enjoyable support from LA indie set Lo Moon, Metric started their set up with ‘Doomscroller’, the ten minute long opener from the aforementioned new album. Straight away, it set the tone – after the slow opening, it suddenly kicked in around two-and-a-half minutes in, with Hainesqon on form with her vocals from the start.

This track led straight into ‘Gold Guns Girls’, already highlighted here as one of their best tracks, and certainly my favourite of theirs – if you don’t remember it from FIFA 10, what were you doing with your life?

From here, they continued into some of their newer material – ‘Dark Saturday’, ‘False Dichotomy’, ‘Formentera’, and ‘Enemies of the Ocean’ all came and went, and sounded pretty good. However, the main attraction of this spell was sandwiched right in the middle with ‘Help I’m Alive’ and its seemingly never ending string of choruses had the crowd enchanted.

I’d previously believed there was only a certain amount of times you could hear the lyric “beating like a hammer” before going insane, but I was quite clearly proven wrong – it was one of the highlights of the set, and yet again highlighted Haines’ best qualities as lead singer; energy, passion, and power.

Picture of lead singer Haines singing
Photo: Ailish O’Leary Austin

Following on from this was a short acoustic segment – Haines and lead guitarist James Shaw held the stage, with the rest of the band departing for a break. Rather than the usual power chords and yelled vocals, they instead played two tracks, ‘Twilight Galaxy’ and ‘Combat Baby’ in a much softer manner then previously experienced. It broke up the gig nicely, and provided a bit of a rest from the constant energy and volume on show for the rest of the set.

However, the regular sound was soon to return, along with the rest of the band. As they rattled towards the end of the main set, tracks like ‘Synthetica’ and ‘Sick Muse’ were on show, before to close it all out, we had ‘Gimme Sympathy’, one of the best tracks from Fantasies. As soon as the band went off following this, the crowd was demanding more, and rightly so – it’d been a fantastic set so far, and there was so clearly more to come.

Sure enough, Metric re-emerged shortly afterwards – first up in the encore was ‘What Feels Like Eternity’, one of the stand-outs from Formentera. An old favourite in ‘Monster Hospital’ was up next, and really set up the final two songs of the night with the energy and much more raw style compared to their newer output.

The first of these was ‘Black Sheep’, best known for its part in Edgar Wright’s nerdy masterclass Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Whilst there is a version which has Brie Larson doing the vocals which was made as part of production for the film, in my eyes Haines’ vocals always do it more justice.

Finally, we had ‘Breathing Underwater’, an uplifting tune perfect to end the set with. The end chorus seemed to last forever, not that this was an issue, as at this point no one really wanted the set to end.

The comparisons made earlier to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were not to imply that Metric are in anyway a copycat. They’ve clearly got their own style and are clearly evolving as a band as they get older (Formentera is clear evidence for this), besides the fact that they were actually formed before Karen O’s group. The only complaint I could have of this gig is a selfish one, in that they didn’t play ‘Speed the Collapse’, another favourite of mine. All in all though, it was a brilliant set, and if you get the chance to see Metric at some point, you should definitely do it.

Dan Knight

Dan Knight

Self-proclaimed music expert from Sheffield, articles may contain North/South bias.

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