Review: Metric’s unplugged show measures up nicely
Faithful fans of Metric who were lucky enough to win tickets on the band’s website or through radio station X92.9 were treated to a softer, more intimate sound as lead vocalist Emily Haines and guitarist Jimmy Shaw showcased their new acoustic set at the Grand Theatre in Calgary on Tuesday night.
Here’s a song-by-song breakdown and review of the performance:
Gold Guns Girls
Choosing to open with a lesser-known song off the new album Fantasies was bold, however it paid off huge for this talented duo. “Gold Gun Girls” is dark, strong new offering and although it took a moment to get used to Metric’s slow melody, the crowd was soon eating out of their hands.
Help, I’m Alive
Moving swiftly from their brilliant opening, Haines jumped right into one of the group’s new singles, which has received a great deal of international attention. The addition of Shaw’s voice to the chorus “beating like a hammer” added a new level to an already solid track. Haines also drew a great deal of energy from the crowd when she pulled out a tambourine and put her whole body into the music.
To learn more about Metric’s new album and acoustic tour click here.
The album version of this catchy song relies heavily on a deep bass, something not available in an acoustic show. Shaw made up for this a great deal by showing off his true talent on the guitar. Some of the energy from the first two songs was lost early on, but Haines quickly pulled it back with her entrancing voice.
After some playful joking with the audience about Kanye West stealing their ideas about creating songs about outer space, Haines and Shaw moved into two of their strongest tracks, “Twilight Galaxy” and “Satellite Mind.” The first has so much to like, from Haines’ amazing vocal range to the flawless transitions provided by Shaw’s guitar, that by the time the two musicians sang in unison the audience had been taken through a range of emotions and had reached a point of pure bliss.
Although it took Shaw a moment get his guitar in-tune, “Satellite Mind” started fast and refused to let up. The lyrics are quite possibly the deepest and darkest on Fantasies and Haines did a perfect job of letting them radiate throughout the theatre. These two songs intend to journey beyond the boundaries of our planet and the audience at the Grand seemed more than to tag along.
Haines left her piano behind for the rest of the show, opting to rely on her beautiful voice that has long been the recognizable symbol of Metric. “We like making records and people like listening to records, we like playing shows and people like going to shows,” she explained as the crow roared in approval. Once the track started Haines’ movements seemed a little awkward and overly-choreographed but she let her voice do most of the talking. The two musicians now collaborating so close to each other added a new level of intimacy to the set.
Nobody Home (Pink Floyd cover)
Shaw took over on the piano for the duo’s first cover song of the evening. It was exciting to watch the attention transition away from Haines for a moment and the audience quickly realized that Shaw’s talent extends far beyond the strings of a guitar. “When I pick up the phone, there’s still nobody home,” was one of the most memorable verses of the evening.
Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl (Broken Social Scene cover)
A perfect song to cover during an acoustic set. Haines reached an emotional peak during the repetitive, heartfelt lyrics of this track and Shaw joined in at times to provide an extremely powerful melody. This song serves as a example of the new avenues Metric could head down if they continue to refine their acoustic sound.
Although this song has been overplayed on the radio in recent weeks, it was pulled off flawlessly by Haines who called on the audience to join in. As the song progressed, more member of the crowd joined in creating an amazing trance-like sound that likely stuck with everyone long after the show ended.
Live It Out
The first true acoustic Metric song ended up being the perfect way to end off this memorable ending. Haines paused at one point as Shaw performed a beautiful guitar solo and the audience exploded in appreciation of efforts. As the song reached its dramatic finale, the audience joined in again and Haines walked around high-fiving those in the front row. As the talented lead singer returned to the microphone, Shaw stopped his guitar and only voices rang out through the theatre. A set that began so perfectly ended in much the same manner.
To hear the acoustic version of “Live It Out” click here.