"I'm just as fucked up as they say," Emily Haines sang, as the huge, powerful chords of "Artificial Nocturne" shook the Opera House. As Haines's voice achingly explored a painful process of self-discovery, the song's plaintiveness could not dissipate the celebratory atmosphere in the room. This Toronto show marked the release date of Metric's newest studio album, Synthetica, and while the record's tone ranges from playfully anxious to agonizing and transformative, the mood of the crowd, as well as the band on stage, could only be described as joyful.
Metric drew their setlist primarily from Synthetica, offering up a throbbing, sensual version of "Youth Without Youth" and a languid, liquid rendition of "Breathing Underwater." They also treated the crowd to some favourites, including "Dead Disco" and a smirking version of "Gold Girls Guns" that came across as a long private joke.
Haines danced around the stage, ecstatic and bristling with manic energy, her strong, pale legs flashing as she threw her body around. Sometimes she sang while bent over her keyboard in concentration; at other moments, her voice rang out while she danced, a tambourine in one hand and a mic in the other.
On each side of her, guitarist and co-founder Jimmy Shaw and bassist Josh Winstead grinned the whole show, as if playing on this stage at this venue was the most fun they had had in ages. Joules Scott-Key's drumming was particularly lively, and he played with humour and muscle, his drums lighting up like a game of Simon as he struck them. They ended the main part of their set with "Stadium Love," which Shaw and Haines performing directly to each other.
After a two-minute countdown, which the crowd shouted along to as though waiting for the ball to drop in New Year's Eve, Metric returned to the stage, beaming, for their encore. "Help, I'm Alive" and "Monster Hospital" both came across as the most brooding pieces in their set, and the most emotionally raw. Winstead and Scott-Key left the stage then, and Haines and Shaw performed an acoustic rendition of "Gimme Sympathy," just his guitar and her voice. Haines dedicated the song to all the mothers, her eyes wet and her voice cracking. She waved away her tears, explaining, "I can't play music and not feel something."