Imperialous – Metric at Shepherds Bush Empire

The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to believe that the real brains behind Broken Social Scene isn’t Kevin Drew and the beardy one, but Leslie Feist and Emily Haines. Just check the evidence. Before they came along, BSS were a couple of guys bumming around Toronto. Next thing, they hook up (not in that way1) with these talented ladies, and some other folks, and the next thing any of us know they’ve produced the shiny disk of utter fabiousness that is “You Forgot It In People“. Then Feist and Emily go back to their day jobs bands, only sporadically helping out, and the result? “Broken Social Scene” and “Forgiveness Rock Record“. Come on, you know as well as I do that either record isn’t fit to lick YFIIP’s white leather thigh boots.

What, you want more evidence? Ok, go and see either of them live. Trust me, that’s no hardship. Feist is a fantastic musician, utterly in control of her music, and a fine performer to boot. And on last night’s performance at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Emily’s up there with her.

Haring through pretty much all of “Fantasies”, plus some older stuff thrown in (which I, dear reader, haven’t got a clue what the track names are), Emily and co demonstrate that they aren’t just another bunch of indie-rock chancers. The glistening shininess of their last record is all present and correct – amazing, given the ability of the sound man to not realise there’s a woman on stage with a microphone that we might want to hear singing. That, and the fact that Jimmy Shaw looks like my mate Idriss after a crash diet. The two Sleeperblokes are damn good at the whole drumming and bassing bit, too.

The songs, well, you know, they are pretty damn fine songs, so hearing them live was always going to be a pleasure. The loonie ending to opener “Twilight Galaxy” certainly made us wake up. “Sick Muse” was frantic, “Gimme Sympathy” was power-pop heaven, and “Collect Call” utterly lovely.

It’s all about Emily though. Emily spends her time away from the keyboards bouncing, pointing at the balcony grinning, bouncing some more, gurning, posing, then doing little shy coquettish smiles. She’s quite the character. There aren’t that many frontwomen (or frontmen, for that matter) with her kind of charisma. She’s the kind of singer you just can’t keep your eyes off, wondering what she’s going to get up to next. She’s dancing like a crazy robot! She’s headbanging at the keyboards! She’s flirting with the bassist! She’s posing for photos! During “Help I’m Alive” she leaned back and pumped her fist in the air like a ballerina on PCP.

Of course, the fact that she can safely be said to be easy on the eye helps. With the kind of angular, slightly gawky beauty that she shares with Feist, there’s not a moment where some lovelorn indieboy (or indiegirl) isn’t lifting up their cameraphones like antennas to heaven, hoping to catch that one shot to safely see them through their long nights at sea. This was, as you’d expect, somewhat irritating, but in life you have to take the rough with the smooth.

And it has to be said, she seems to be really enjoying herself up there; and in fairness, the rest of the band did too. Jimmy Shaw had a massive grin on his face the entire time. At the end of the gig, Emily put out a heartfelt plea about wanting to make things different (maybe they should help out The Pop Cop), the main gist of which was how they loved being on an indie label. Well, we love it too; seeing a band winning awards (oh, ok, some Juno awards) without major label backing is wonderful.

Metric area band I’d love to see hit the bigtime. They’ve got energy, great songs, and a frontwoman who could charm the toughest of crowds. Like Mew, this lot should be supporting U2 or Coldplay or Muse or someone on some enormous stadium tour. Ending with “Stadium Love”, of course.

MP3: Stadium Love by Metric

MP3: Gold Guns Girls (Acoustic) by Metric (Courtesy of the marvellous Tsururadio)

1 Though they have, you know. I’m sure you don’t need me to spread gossip.

Amazon’s Metric Page