Metric‘s energetic, flamboyant front woman Emily Haines certainly had what it took to get the crowd going during this good-natured gig in Camden.
When she didn’t absolutely have to stay still in order to play a keyboard or synth, she was all over the stage at Koko, revelling in the attention of a sell-out crowd of dedicated fans. And while there’s no doubt these Canadian indie-rockers have talent aplenty, it’s the electric presence of Haines that sticks in your mind when you see them live.
Although not a household name in the UK, Metric have enjoyed significant success in their native Canada. On the basis of this performance, they’d do really well with exposure to a wider audience over here too. The set was packed with material from their fourth album, Fantasies (recently re-released here in the UK), a hook-laden, catchy, multi-layered gem of a record. It’s just the kind of thing that would bring a breath of fresh air to Radio 1.
The songs translated to a live setting really well too. Maybe it was just Koko’s excellent sound system (or an excellent sound engineer), but track after track was punctuated by punchy bass, soaring synths and – frequently – a guitar hook that practically forced your feet to start moving.
As the gig progressed it was almost as if some of Haines’ boundless energy was transferred to the crowd. As she somehow danced, jumped, waved and gyrated despite impressively-sized heels, the audience raised hands aloft, lit by pulsing strobes as they bounced and clapped in unison during earworm-inducing songs like Help I’m Alive and Gimme Sympathy.
After playing Stadium Love – a proper anthemic rock stomper that hints at the scale of Metric’s ambition – the band retreated off-stage. Returning sans-drummer a few minutes later, their encore was unconventional, totally captivating – and included a full-on singalong as well as a story about Axl Rose. You can’t expect much more from a Sunday evening in Camden.
This was a short trip to Europe for Metric, who are heading back to the US and Canada soon. To get some idea of why I liked them so much, tune in to Later with Jools Holland this week.