On the Road: Death Cab for Cutie and Metric in Montreal

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This weekend I took at trip to Montreal to continue a mother-daughter concert tradition, and this beautiful city sure knows how to party. A year after their latest album release, Death Cab for Cutie co-headlined with Metric on the Lights on the Horizon tour, forming one of my ultimate dream teams.

The Centre Bell was not as packed as I thought it would be, but the crowd made up for any lost volume and after a full day of walking the city, I welcomed the chance to sit down on the beer-soaked stadium floor. Death Cab kicked off their set with “The New Year,” a track off their 2003 Transatlanticism LP, which in the four times I’ve seen them play, I’ve never heard them open with. Older DCFC fans were stoked to be able to sing along to “Crooked Teeth,” “Title and Registration,” and even “President of What?” off their 1998 debut album Something About Airplanes. About halfway through the set, frontman Ben Gibbard got choked up as he explained that Death Cab’s earliest friends and influences Harvey Danger had lost their bassist to a long-term illness this month. He went on to explain that for every stop on this tour, they would play one of Harvey Danger’s songs, and dedicated “Why I’m Lonely” to the late Aaron Huffman. If you love Ben’s melancholic vocals and appreciate a sick bass line, check out this Harvey Danger tune:

Metric has always been one for showmanship, a talent they flashed with pride as they lowered two large lighting pieces, using the negative space to depict the letter M. To the crowd’s delight, singer Emily Haines danced out on stage leading “IOU,” an old hit from their 2004 album Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? The set continued to incorporate an awesome balance of old and new crowd favourites, as well as a handful of songs off Metric’s most recent album Pagans in Vegas. Haines made use of an impressive collection of capes, beginning with a tasseled leather poncho during “Too Bad, So Sad,” a lime green chiffon number during “Artificial Nocturne,” and a bedazzled black cloak during “Black Sheep.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Haines invited the Montreal Choir up on stage to join the band in singing “Dreams So Real,” which she prefaced as an ode to this crazy, messed up world we’re living in. The magnificent light show went dark, as the stage was lit with two spotlights and a couple glowing trees as Metric, the Montreal Choir, and the audience joined together in song and smartphone flashlights for a serene 2 minutes and 41 seconds. Haines also let guitarist James Shaw take the lead in performing “Other Side,” off Pagans in Vegas, for which the crowd swooned – what a perfect combination of leather jacket, cowboy hat and dreamy vocals.

La pièce de résistance was the disco ball decent into a veil of red smoky light as the band played “Celebrate” leading into an acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy,” for which the only source of light was the sea of cellphone lights across the stadium walls and floor. The finale continued to build in volume and energy until confetti spontaneously exploded from the ceiling, coating the roaring crowd in a blanket of paper and sparkles.

If you haven’t already caught this power duo on their 10-city Canadian tour, you have 8 dates left as of Tuesday, March 22nd and if you have to travel, it’s definitely worth the gas.

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