The Bell Centre had a hat trick with three amazing bands playing on the same bill. First up, a band I noticed at the last Osheaga, called Leisure Cruise. I remember instantly falling for them, and their sound from the first notes.
We interviewed Leah Siegal & Dave Hodge after this, their first show with Metric and Death Cab. Dave is the link to Metric because of his involvement in Broken Social Scene. Although Dave is Canadian born, they whole band including Aaron and Jay are so nice, you’d think they were all Canadians!
Leisure Cruise made the video “Crime Tip” with friend Julia Stiles, which didn’t make it into their shortened set, but I was happy they will be heard by a larger audience during this tour.
Leah came out with a stunning coat that shined all the way to the back of the arena, where I was seated. “Ragged Dawn” gave her a chance to introduce her lovely voice to the streams of fans making their way to their seats. They introduced a new song called “Dust” during their set, with the rest of the songs coming from mainly from their self titled album. The energy was great, and half way into their set, the crowd was finally larger. As my daughter put it: “They deserved a larger crowd”. The fact that I was overhearing people talk about them before the next act was a good sign that Metric chose the right band to get us warmed up.
Double digit love
Dust (new song)
We caught Death Cab for Cutie from a better vantage point as they delighted the crowd with songs mostly from Kintsugi and Narrow Stairs, but a nice variety of older ones as well. The last time I saw Death Cab in Montreal, it was at in the Plateau at a church turned concert hall. This was a far less intimate setting, but I enjoyed their set and was happy to hear the familiar sounds of “The New Year” start us off. There is something about Ben Gibbard’s voice that just draws you in. “Crooked Teeth” raised the energy with it’s catchy hooks, but very few were dancing. I loved hearing “President of What?” from 2002, whose title could be changed to “President Who?” very soon. It’s incredible how a song from 14 years ago still holds up as well as it did upon its release.
Death Cab dedicated “Cath…” to Metric, but how different from the character of this song who simply settles with a “well-intentioned” man in what seems like a doomed future. Quite the contrary, Metric are a forward thinking band who is constantly evolving in both sound and style.
For “Soul Meets Body”, Matt behind us felt the need to dance in the entrance way. His joyful interpretive dance seemed to amuse the security, until he bumped into him, at which point he realized the wisdom of continuing at his own performance from his seat. While I shied away from interpretive dance, I did sway to this, my favorite song from their set.
Their set ended with “Bixby Canyon Bridge” having played a nice variety spanning 6 albums, new and old.
The New Year
The Ghosts of Beverly Drive
Title and Registration
President of What?
I Will Possess Your Heart
Why I’m Lonely
(Harvey Danger cover) (Live debut; played in honour of Aaron Huffman)
You Are a Tourist
Soul Meets Body
Bixby Canyon Bridge
We made our way to the floor to catch Metric and would soon find out why the tour title “Lights on the Horizon” was aptly chosen. The last time I saw Metric at the Bell Centre, I had a fairly bad view from the side. I had high hopes, which were not met, partially because, for any Bell Center show…never skimp on getting good seats. That one’s on me. It was also their first stadium tour, and these are a different beast. It’s obvious that the production value of this tour is where they really upped the ante. The visuals were co-created by Meagan Metcalf, whom was praised behind the scenes. It was quite an impressive visual show, which really enhanced the music. This alone made this an event that only an arena could host.
It all started with “IOU” going way back to Old World Underground. Hearing that song live reminded me of why I fell in love with Metric in the first place. Just like Death Cab, this music can stand the test of time and is still very much relevant. When I next heard “Help I’m Alive”, I realized I was in for a great evening of variety. The crowd agreed as they pumped their fist in the hair during the the lyrics “beating like a hammer”. Although the crowd came alive for a few songs, they really let me down. The energy from the performers and the great songs should have had everyone on their feet, but Montreal failed as an audience that night.
When I spoke to Emily Haines after the show, she said that tonight’s set list was purposefully chosen from songs the fans wanted to hear, rather then simply play all the new album. I told her it was a gutsy move, but it allowed us to experience some of the classics from Metric that we have come to know and love.
“Youth Without Youth”, the song that had a ton of commercial airplay followed accompanied by strobe lights. I had to admit I was obsessed with that album, playing it over and over in the car. I was able to relive those moments as 5 of tonight’s songs came from Synthetica.
For “Dreams So Real”, a choir filled the stage as Emily mingled with them sharing a moment I’m sure none of them will ever forget.
With an encore of three songs, Metric ended it with “Breathing Underwater” in a shower of confetti. I’m sure many years ago, some naysayers would have never predicted that Metric would be doing a stadium tour. Some Canadian bands simply can’t cross over to the States. Metric is breathing underwater, doing what for many is impossible…filling stadiums with fans and being brave enough to please them, rather then a record label, by playing the songs fans want to hear.
Emily was on fire, with her sweet but powerful voice. James would step up to the edge of the stage to shoot power cords into the crowd, while Joshua and Joules would keep it all together as they built the foundation of the sounds we instantly recognize as Metric. Combined with an incredible light show, a wide variety of songs and a bill filled with three well chosen bands…hat trick indeed.
Help I’m Alive
Youth Without Youth
On the Sly
Too Bad, So Sad
Dreams So Real (with choir)
Gold Guns Girls
I highly suggest you sign up to the band’s mailing list. You will get a chance for advance tickets, sometimes free ones as well, but what I enjoy are the emails from Emily. Written in a very personal way, Emily shares with us the emotions and thoughts she has in regards to this crazy business. It is a rare insight into the world of music that is so glamourized, but you realize these are just ordinary people with an extraordinary gift.
If you missed Death Cab for Cutie, they were just added to Osheaga! Get your tickets now!
Review by Randal Wark
Photos by Steve Gerrard