The duct tape heart on the kick drum is still beating strong. Ever the DIY romantic, Emily Haines stuck it on there at the start of this six-month tour and is overjoyed that it’s made it to the final show intact. “Every show we think, ‘We’re gonna have to stick the heart back on,” she tells a rammed Forum, “But it’s still there…”
There’s no better metaphor for Metric’s spirit and staying power. Through turbulent times for rock, they’ve adapted, explored, and expanded their remit into dead disco and scorching synthetica, without once dialling their tectonic ambition out of the red. From the first pounding powerchords of ‘Black Sheep’ – Emily howling like a she-wolf, boasting of her “Balls of steel” and bouncing manically around in a studded bra and leather jacket, like a Meatloaf vixen having a fit of self-respect – this is full-throttle future rock pumped full of bravado and with little interest in pandering to today’s pop-indie trends.
‘Youth Without Youth’ comes on like a middle-aged rampage, keen to find out what happens when you slap ELO vocoder vocals over Marilyn Manson’s suicide glam. ‘Breathing Underwater’ out-U2s U2 in making the Forum feel like a decompressed 747 taking off. ‘Art Of Doubt’ builds from a dark, paranoid throb about “wall-to-wall wars” into the sound of the world burning. ‘Sick Muse’ is, quite simply, euphoria bottled.
The material from seventh album ‘Art Of Doubt’, dominating the set, displays a characteristic mix of meaty poptronica and bludgeoning storms of synthrock – ‘Holding Out’ comes on like a metal Breeders while ‘Dark Saturday’, in particular, stands alongside their mightiest tunes, like riff rock has finally been lab-perfected. It’s always something of a shock to find a hippyish heart lurking beneath these buzzsaw behemoths: Emily introduces a heartfelt ‘Anticipate’ as “a psychic letter to myself” that makes her “trip all the balls”, and a blissful ‘Gimme Sympathy’ as a chance to time-travel back to carefree pre-Trump times. “It’s gonna be alright,” she reassures us, “because butterflies”.
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The mid-set lull – inevitable when you’re hammering out two thirds of your new album – is kicked into touch by the arrival of a roaring, righteous ‘Monster Hospital’ (Emily begging the warmongers to “STOP! For the love of God” with real end-of-tether threat) and ‘Combat Baby’, which should really be the theme for a TV series called Suzi Quatro In The 25th Century. It’s a minor miracle that the tape heart survives the robotic Garbage rampage of ‘Dead Disco’, or that Metric are still thriving in an age where – like the song says – “everything’s been done/Dead disco/Dead funk/Dead rock’n’roll”. But this sort of defiance, self-belief and slick, punkoid power will see you through a lifetime of dark Saturdays.