LIVE: Metric - Manchester Academy 2, 31/01/2023

LIVE: Metric – Manchester Academy 2, 31/01/2023

Metric returned to Manchester Academy, although this time at the bigger Academy 2. It’s a decent venue, nicely accessible, friendly, good sound, and plenty of bars and cafes within easy reach. There’s a lot of love in the air all around tonight. As Emily Haines thanks the audience at the end of the show, there are genuine tears of joy as her emotions overspill during ‘Breathing Underwater’, the regular set closer of the encore. “We’ve missed you.”

We’ve missed you too Emily. Now eight albums strong and with a very solid quartet that have played together on most of them, I was expecting something good. I got something brilliant. Their vital and eclectic back catalogue gets a real workout, with representation from most of the albums. ‘Gold, Guns, Girls’ is still as fresh as a nun’s linen. ‘Help I’m Alive’ still rocks. ‘Now Or Never Now’ still shines like the crazy diamond it is. ‘Synthetica’ is played with vigour and like most of the set is close to what you hear on the record. Then there’s ‘Black Sheep’ – a song it would be difficult to leave out and one of their most well-known. Ask Scott Pilgrim.

Over the run of the string of albums, Metric have never been afraid to experiment, rather than stick to a set style. There are plenty of songs from the latest offering, including ten minutes of tonight’s set opening blockbuster ‘Doomscroller’, the title track, ‘Formentera’, ‘False Dichotomy’… all titles that lead me to dust off my Oxford English Dictionary, plus the wonderful ‘All Comes Crashing’. Halfway through and it’s ‘Exit Stage Left’ for the rhythm section, whereupon we’re treated to a couple of acoustic goldies from the back catalogue. ‘Twilight Galaxy’ and ‘Combat Baby’. The audience participation during the latter proves just how in sync the Manchester fans are.

Sick Muse’ is back in the set. If you’ve heard the acoustic version, it’d also work well in the previously mentioned ‘Unplugged’ section. It’s a song which works, either way you hear it.

Monster Hospital’ is a beefed-up, muscle-bound animal on heavy steroids these days. It was good to hear it, as it’s the song that introduced this writer to them a few years back and came as a nice surprise. There was no real need for lighting tonight. The band’s wide smiles lit the auditorium up. This was more than matched by a very appreciative crowd, one of the happiest I’ve ever seen in fact. It’s noticeable just how tight this band are though.

Joules Scott-Key is an absolute whirling dervish powerhouse on the drum kit, able to mix the tempos with ease. Josh Winstead is certainly one of the more accomplished bass players, really solid, and doesn’t waste a note. Joules and Josh provide as solid a backline as any band I’ve had the privilege to witness. Jimmy Shaw is a Dodge City guitar slinger, for sure, a fantastic purveyor of the craft, who can easily jump from one style to the next. Emily Haines is a blonde ball of ethereal sparkle. She covers every inch of the stage with a smile that could melt polar ice and really piss off environmentalists. The voice is every bit as good as ever. She possesses an armoury of voices for different songs. She also weighs in with an extra guitar on the ‘Rust Never Sleeps’-ish ‘Dark Saturday’ with Emily, Jimmy and Josh also able to weigh in on Keyboards/Synth.

Metric possess quite an arsenal. What they also have is a crowd who clearly loves them. Tonight they fought the war and ‘they’ won. It would be fantastic to see them come back in the Autumn and give us a complete British tour. It’s difficult to break out of the Glasgow, Manchester, and London status quo.

If you’ve not heard Metric, give them a listen. It’s worth the effort. Thanks for the winter sunshine. Please hurry back.

Words and main photo by Paul Reno.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.