Canadian indie pop band plays sold-out show

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If there’s one thing I’ve realized from attending a Metric show, it’s that Emily Haines is nothing short of an indie pop goddess. The Canadian quartet, headed by singer and keyboardist Haines, played a sold-out show Monday night at Newport Music Hall that was worth well more than the $5 door price.

The boys of Metric – just as talented but often overshadowed by the illustrious Haines – include drummer Joules Scott-Key, guitarist Jimmy Shaw, and bassist Josh Winstead.

The band opened with “Twilight Galaxy,” a wistful number from its latest album Fantasies, with Haines pounding away the song’s introduction on keyboard. The foursome played a powerful keys-heavy interlude during “Twilight Galaxies,” which awed nearly everyone in the crowded venue.

Haines’ appearance perfectly embodied the dreamy feel of Metric’s electronica pop sound; she wore a sequin minidress and matching shoes, and for those familiar with “Fantasies,” Haines was unquestionably the flawless personification of the album.

Maybe it’s because I’m a huge Metric fan and have listened to Fantasies more times than I can count, but there were moments in the first half of the set when Haines’ vocals were noticeably just not all there. Haines seemed to put more energy into dancing and striding around stage and her vocals were lost at some key points in songs where her voice sounds hauntingly beautiful on the album.

The quartet struggled a little to keep the audience’s energy up in the first half of the show, but to its credit, Metric played without an opening band, a rarity for any concert-goer and a challenge for even the most seasoned music veterans.

In “Satellite Mind,” Haines lagged a little behind the accompaniment but managed to pick up the pace toward the end of the song for a strong finish. But Haines’ rough start didn’t deter the foursome. Haines’ mic volume kicked up four or five songs into the show, which made a huge different in the balance of the lead and back-up vocals and Haines’ sexy breathy voice became louder and more audible.

Haines and the crew revisited their older album Live It Out with the song “Handshakes” and again with “Empty,” which was undoubtedly the turning point in the show. Haines sang much of the song with her hands on her hips in a sassy pose that matched the tone of the song with lines like “Shake your head it’s empty” and “I’m so glad that I’m an island.”

On “Gold Guns Girls,” Haines played keyboard and guitar on and off throughout the song – a feat that seemed to impress some of the male audience members who clearly hadn’t been previously acquainted with Metric. Haines was equally lively – and equally capable – with both instruments though her vocals were strongest when her movements were restricted and her concentration was on singing.

The band played almost the entire Fantasies album, rounding out the show with “Gimme Sympathy,” “Sick Muse” and “Stadium.” And Haines rocked out the keyboard in to “Dead Disco” (off of Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?), easily one of the best songs of the evening.

Between songs, Haines was as much the natural frontwoman she is while playing music, and conversed with the audience asking profound questions like, “What the fuck is music?”

The foursome returned for a two-song encore that sounded more like the old, unpolished Metric than the new, moodier and mature Metric. With help from the concert staff, Haines slid off the edge of the stage to hug adoring fans in the first few rows like a prophet might greet his followers.

The audience seemed to connect with many of Fantasies’ deeply personal songs in a way that was almost tangible. People moved, swayed and danced but they also seemed to feel Metric’s music too, not just listen to it. One thing’s for sure – Metric didn’t disappoint Columbus on Monday night.

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