Metric + July Talk @ MTelus

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Review of Metric + July Talk + Murray A. Lightburn @ MTelus May 5, 2019

Both Metric and July Talk could fill the MTelus on their own, so I should not have been surprised that when I arrived, the venue was packed like a carry-on in coach. 

Murray A. Lightburn opened up the evening early.  He is known as the lead singer of The Dears.  Emily Haines said that if it wasn’t for the The Dears, there wouldn’t be Metric, such was the influence this man and his bandmates had on budding musicians of the past, like Metric.

Unfortunately, I walked in at the beginning of the set by July Talk, sad to have missed this 30-minute performance, mostly of songs off his latest release Hear Me Out. Wish I did, Murray…next time.

July Talk

If you haven’t yet seen July Talk live…stop reading, find their next gig and attend. We will wait.

OK…we are back.  How was it? Is your mind blown?  Worth it, right?

I don’t think I can recall a more interesting dynamic between Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay.  A cross between playful lovers and a teasing brother/sister relationship.  Honestly…I’d rather not know the real story and just enjoy the antics they both deploy on stage.

This power couple both sported military grade shaved heads with black pants and white shirts.  They looked fantastic.

Starting with an oldie, ”Headsick” off their self-titled 2012 release (or 2013 depending on which version you got), we knew were in for a great show.

The energy just intensified for “Guns + Ammunition”, a crowd favorite.

July Talk are obviously working on new material.  “Pay For It” would be shared for a first listen by the Montreal crowd while Leah reached into the crowd to hold hands with them.  

“Summer Dress” is probably my personal favorite and the bluesy guitar just kicks you in the gut…in a good way.

Three more back to back unreleased songs would follow with “Still Sacred Can Fall”, “The News” & “Pretender” which they introduced as a song about shapeshifters. 

Leah acknowledge Montreal and specifically Concordia and their dance program.  I’m sure she could teach the class a thing or two about using the full stage to express her passion for the music.  Peter would Yin to Leah’s Yang, often whipping the guitar wire like Indiana Jones.   

At one point in the show, Leah referred to the Metric lyric: “We should never meet our heroes” referring to Metric, who has welcomed the band into their family and have been sweethearts throughout this tour.

“The Garden” was a fan favorite and so many other favorites would be played at full volume to an appreciative crowd. During this song, mischievous Leah used the inflatable ball to again play with the audience, but this time, she dipped into the crowd while still holding the moon like balloon.  She is not afraid to get up close and personal. 

They ended with one of their biggest radio friendly hits “Push + Pull.”  

Speaking with a Super Fan that runs the July Talk Super Fan Facebook Page, I was schooled in July Talk.  Leah runs the performance and Peter mirrors her energy.  

Quebec city has the best crowd of this tour, chanting the Ole Ole Ole song seconds after they left the stage for the intermission before the encore.  Montreal came in close second and it was clear that Montreal loves July Talk.

July Talk has quite the dedicated super fans and they were showing the love tonight.


If July Talk wasn’t enough, Metric would take the stage they where they shine the brightest.  Yes, they have played the Bell Centre, but the MTelus is where the magic happens.  

The last time I spoke with Emily Haines, she told me about how they always play the hits for the fans.  Yes, there were 7 songs off the new album Art of Doubt…it’s the name of the tour, so it goes without saying that we will hear a good chunk of that one.  The rest of the show was a greatest hits extravaganza.

Probably the most enthusiastic fans for Metric were Peter and Leah in the stage right balcony.  Peter left at one point, but Leah was singing along, dancing and having a blast up there. Where this woman gets her energy, I don’t know, but it’s almost exhausting just looking at her!

“Dead Disco” was the first song, and this disco was anything but dead.  

They performed some of my favorite songs, such as “Synthetica” which was the album that was on repeat in my car for so many months.  That whole album for me is driving music…it can melt away the most ferocious road rage, and pothole rage.  

Emily took the time, before “Breathing Underwater”, to explain the meaning.  First, let me say that the song is breathtaking, if you excuse the pun.  It’s truly wonderful.  So, you might be taking a selfie at Coachella and you say: “Is this my life?”  You are living it up, but of course, like your Insta feed, it’s the highlights of your life, not the reality.  You might also be in a dark place and say: “Is this my life?” and you feel like you can’t breathe, like you are chocking underwater. 

Then Emily will sing the lyrics: “I can see the end, but it hasn’t happened yet.”  Is that hope?  The end of the pain.  Does it have a bleaker meaning?  

The band’s mailing list will have Emily speak to her fans in a very raw and honest way. They have attained a success that many bands wish for.  Yet, they seem to be grounded.  But when you get that level of success, people put you on a pedestal.  The more people do that, the easier it can get to your head and inflate it.

Since we are all human, we are not designed to be on a pedestal.  People will keep lifting you up till you get this fear of the heights you have been raised to.  There becomes this disconnect with the fans, with your friends and those you love. 

There is also the trap of feeling like an imposter.  If people find out I’m just a regular person, the bubble of fame will pop. It’s a fear that can paralyze.  It can feel like breathing underwater.

Some can stay grounded, when they remember who they are.  

I believe Metric may have struggled with this for a time.  The short blip of time I spent with them does not give me more insight into their minds than others, but when I think about those raw emails Emily sends to fans, I think it was a struggle.  

I also think Metric have found a balance.  It’s clear they have their friends, Broken Social Scene, Stars, July Talk and these can relate to the life they now live.  

I also think they give back a lot to their fans.  Tonight was a case in point.  What an amazing performance by all members…giving it their all.  Sharing the new songs, re-living the old ones with us.  

Coming home to the Metropolis where they can shine and just let loose to end their tour.

That was the feeling of tonight’s performance.  They rose from the waters with a new breath of life.  

Intimate rendition of “Love Is a Place” with James Shaw became a sing along.

A time travel to 2009 with “Gimme Sympathy” asked us the age old question, who would you rather be? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

For sheer impact, it would be the Beatles but for longevity, you can’t deny The Rolling Stones. Many would chose Metric over both of them.

“Help I’m Alive” was a highlight as we all raised our fist for “beating like a hammer.” Epic.

From “Dead Disco” to the finale “Now or Never Now”, Metric were on top of their game while Leah cheered them on from the balcony.  

It was a glorious homecoming that ended with Joshua Winstead catapulting his guitar into the air to his tech (check out their Insta post for that).

Two bands we are proud to count as our own as Canadians that seem to complement each other in so many ways.  

If there was one link between the two, it would be the love of playing music live. You can feel it in their performance.  This was not only for us, the audience, but this was also to feed their hunger to play and be creative.

This is your life…enjoy it and thanks for coming home to Montreal.

Review: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Photos – Eric Brisson

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