Ace professional photographer Vince Grzegorek
Metric launched its 27-city winter tour last night at the House of Blues, the band's first stop in Cleveland in quite some time, with a 19-song show that hit the high points of 2018's Art of Doubt
while showcasing the band's strong seven-album career. As guitarist James Shaw told Scene music editor Jeff Niesel last week
, at this point in their career, they aim to make records that "expand the show," and last night proved just that. (It's amazing, if you haven't thought about it for a second, that they can fill a set with hits from 16 years without playing "The Shade," "Blindness" and "Synthetica" and those absences don't even really register or leave you feeling like you missed out.)
Anyway, Art of Doubt
feels bigger and louder than its predecessor, 2015's Pagans in Vegas, which found Shaw doing more producing than guitar work. By bringing in outside producer Justin Medal-Johnson for Art of Doubt
, Shaw was freed up to get back to guitar and the result was a something more familiar, rounded and similar to Metric's early albums.
The difference, at least to your humble reviewer, could most easily be heard in last night's version of "Cascades," which while a dynamite studio track from Pagans
on its own, took on a fuller club-friendly sound live with Shaw's solo. It feels like the version Metric would have preferred to record if things were different three years ago, if Shaw wasn't stuck producing and the band didn't buy into a full synthpop trend.
Setlist and assorted thoughts:
"Love You Back" — Your humble reviewer only recently discovered Art of Doubt
, and this is such a lovely, clubby, trippy way to open a show.
"Youth Without Youth" — It's a good song, guys. You know this.
"Risk" — The best track off Art of Doubt
? The building, crescendoing is pure joy.
"Dressed to Suppress" — Every band needs a protest song these days and while this isn't the best one you'll find around, it's not bad.
"Breathing Underwater" — Emily Haines took a second after this stirring favorite to talk about whether breathing underwater means having superpowers and being able to overcome adversity or feeling like you're drowning before the band momentarily tackled a softer version of the chorus that leans toward the second meaning. It was different and beautiful and a reminder that Metric's acoustic
work is amazing
"Art of Doubt" — Like "Risk," a momentum-riding gem made for listening in the car on a long drive.
"Seven Rules" — Alright, I could have done without this on the setlist.
"No Lights on the Horizon" — Looking at the TVs in the back of the HOB during a show is such a jarring experience that feels entirely disconnected from the reality in front of you where the heads in the front rows on the screen are entirely static and it feels like the band is playing to some high school faculty or a crowd of lobotomized citizens in some dystopia. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the song but something your reviewer thought about during this point of the show.
"Gimme Sympathy" — Haines introduced this by saying thanks to everyone that'd been with the band since the early days and humbly offered they were going to play an oldie now, from way back in 2008, which also happened to be the song that, predictably, received the biggest response.
"Gold Guns Girls"
"Now or Never"
"Help I'm Alive"