Metric The Media Club, Vancouver BC April 23

Metric The Media Club, Vancouver BC April 23
"Are we here together?" Emily Haines asked a gathered hoard of radio contest winners, super fans and industry types (inescapable, those) hugged tight to the Media Club's small, dark stage for a private acoustic set celebrating the release of new album Fantasies. It was as much a question as a warning, a "with us or against us" that signified that if we were suitably attentive, they (Haines and guitarist James Shaw) would suitably entertain us.

Here? Yes. Together? Almost. The usual maddening loud talkers aside, most in attendance spent the better part of the show straining - to be nearer to Haines, certainly, but also to better see and hear her in a rare close-up, stripped-down performance. If most live Metric is Haines in the wild, this was Haines in a cage.

It's perhaps not surprising, then, that her spirited banter was weirder than usual, referencing David Lynch and her own song lyrics and peppered with deadpan exchanges with Shaw (who, it should be said, dropped a cheeky cover of Pink Floyd's "Nobody Home"). Her dialled-up quirk, and a pair of off-white sunglasses allowed Haines to maintain a bit of distance. "The great thing about these small shows," she said, "Is that a girl in the second row can whisper 'Take off your sunglasses,' and I can hear her and say 'Fuck that!'"

While short, the set - one of five such shows the pair have been touring from Winnipeg westward - was a tightly-wound charmer, holding up new stuff like "Twilight Galaxy" against standard bearers like "Live It Out." This could be risky, but Haines treats each song, even Broken Social Scene's "Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" like it's a shiny new coin, tossing that voice of hers up into the ether just long enough for us to cherish it. Before "Anthems," Emily Haines spoke of nostalgia for the past, but Metric's all future, whether it be danceable or acoustic with sunglasses.