Normally, one would expect a fiery pop band like Metric to play at a nightclub or a spacious hall — y'know, somewhere with a dance floor. But for their latest Vancouver show, the Toronto rockers opted to play at the reserved seat-only Orpheum Theatre, a venue best known for its symphony performances and graduation ceremonies.
The theatre was clearly ill-suited to the energetic crowd, as many concertgoers abandoned their seats and rushed up to the front as soon as the lights went down. The set began with the gently brooding "Twilight Galaxy," a restrained opener but it gave the audience a chance to absorb the impressive stage set-up, which included a towering video screen and seizure-inducing lights.
The mood soon lifted with explosive takes on "Help, I'm Alive" and "Satellite Mind," front-woman Emily Haines showing off her aerobics-instructor dance moves as she prowled the stage in a silver spangled mini-dress. Her cohorts, meanwhile, hung back in the shadows, their matching black outfits apparently designed to attract as little attention as possible.
The band were best when at their tightest and most focused, as on the squalling rock-outs of "Handshakes." The set's only lull came during a meandering version of "Empty," during which the group plodded through a tedious jam as Haines soapboxed about how the "fucking MySpace generation" needs a band of the calibre of Led Zeppelin. Thankfully, the group rescued the night by tearing through a series of their most upbeat, radio-friendly songs, the energy peaking during the disco-infused single "Gimme Sympathy."
The evening ended with Haines and guitarist James Shaw playing a stripped-down acoustic version of "Combat Baby," which they dedicated to Stars singer Torquil Campbell, who was in attendance. With the audience's singing nearly drowning out the performers, it was a moment restrained beauty and elegance that suggested that the Orpheum may not have been such a strange choice of venue after all.