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Review: Metric kept foot on gas pedal, embracing fondness for playing at full volume

They drew heavily from their new album, Formentera, for a 90-minute set. Dear Rouge was the opening act.
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Toronto rockers Metric, from left, Jimmy Shaw, Emily Haines and Joshua Winstead, kicked off their Doomscroller tour with the first of two shows at the Royal Theatre Thursday night in Victoria. They perform again tonight at the Royal. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST. Aug. 11, 2022

Review: Metric with Dear Rouge

Where: Royal Theatre

When: Thursday, Aug. 11

Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)

If the pandemic hadn’t twisted tour schedules into a mess of strange bookings, abrupt cancellations, and capacity-capped concerts, Metric likely would have been slotted into Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, as opposed to back-to-back dates at the Royal Theatre.

And that’s based on sonic volume.

The Toronto-New York group had the amperage way up during its tour-opening performance Thursday, which wasn’t always a bad thing; the group specializes in stadium-sized rock ‘n’ roll, and delivered on cue in that regard.

But while its fondness for full volume makes sense, where anthemic choruses are concerned, some of the nuance was lost along the way. Singer-keyboardist Emily Haines was her energetic self — with no shortage of range, to boot — and Jimmy Shaw kept the songs chugging with his steady guitar leads.

But the highs were shrill in spots, and the lows a little muddy on occasion. It wasn’t a major concern, but some problems persisted. An overabundance of echo, reverb, and gain is not always a good thing, especially in a room with exceptional acoustics.

Perhaps the bombast-friendly arena would have made for a better fit, after all.

The band’s new album, Formentera, from which they drew heavily during the 90-minute set, appeared somewhat difficult to re-create. The room, which was not sold out, reserved its loudest cheers for the band’s older material, which still sounds strong (Help I’m Alive, in particular). The middle space between the two was good, but short of great.

The night opened with a set from Vancouver group Dear Rouge, who won the crowd over with an energetic set.

Led by the husband-and-wife duo of Danielle and Drew McTaggart, the band played its first few songs bathed in blue light, with flashing LED lights and a neon Dear Rouge sign to offset the cool visage. The stage was was dimly-lit for too long, which made it difficult to connect with the group at the outset.

The hit Fake Fame was a bottom-heavy banger, and there were great tones from both guitars throughout, but the band didn’t exactly blow the doors off the theatre. Dear Rouge has turned in some impressive club performances around these parts in recent years, so the band may be better-suited for the confines of the Capital Ballroom until further notice.

Metric also suffered from a somewhat slow start, with muddy sound affecting its opening salvo, the exceptional 10-minute epic, Doomscroller. The group recovered quickly, and by the the heart of its set was rolling and in great shape.

Metric didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal as the night came to a close with Breathing Underwater. “I can see the end,” Haines sang, while appearing to be genuinely moved by the reaction from the audience.

After two years of uncertainty, she’s earned the right to be hopeful.

Metric and Dear Rouge also perform Friday at the Royal Theatre. Tickets are available at rmts.bc.ca.

Mdevlin@timescolonist.com