Ottawa Event Review: July Talk and Metric Concert

Saturday night featured the return of two iconic bands to Ottawa, on their joint Art of Doubt Tour. July Talk has become my favourite band as of late; I absolutely love everything they do! Metric has been a staple of Bluesfest for so many years, that through both the festival, and the regular play on Live 88.5, I became a huge fan, and still have many of their songs on my regular playlist. These two bands together, in my mind, created an impressive one-two punch, offering a fantastic concert. When I learned that they were coming to TD Place, I jumped on the opportunity to see two phenomenal bands, and bought a ticket right away!

Surprisingly for me, July Talk was not the closing act, as the Tour was promoting the recent release of Metric’s the Art of Doubt album, so July Talk played as the opener for Metric. I have seen July Talk the past five times that they were in Ottawa, and they are completely different at each performance! The leads for the band, Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay have two of the greatest voices that I’ve encountered, each with their own unique sound, complimenting each other brilliantly. Fay, with her delicate, yet powerful voice and Dreimanis, with his course and almost scruffy sounding voice make for recognizable music even for people who aren’t necessarily die-hard fans. I feel like you’d need to gargle with Jamison’s in order to get a voice like Dreimanis, but he pulls it off beautifully and is the backbone of the unique sound of the band!

It will come as no surprise that I loved the concert. The simplistic set design had a “cool” factor that provided a great visual aspect to the show. Performance wise, Fay has a stage (and usually crowd) presence like I’ve never seen in another performer. She is always so full of energy, and is known for leaving the stage and singing in the crowd, often with a microphone wire in tow (although she stayed on stage last night). Her dancing and stage presence always leave the crowd smiling and loving every second of the performance. Dreimanis, although not as involved with the crowd physically, is equally as impressive on the stage; he is so talented, playing multiple instruments, and his love of performing is palpable. This couple work so well together, to the point where I’d challenge anyone to argue that another band loves what they do as much as these two. This love of music and passion for performing is what makes their concerts so unique and brilliant, and the incredible songs certainly don’t hurt! Speaking of songs, despite only on being on stage for an hour, they covered all of the crowd favourites! They have so many fantastic songs, it must be a challenge to choose only enough to fill 60 minutes. Although hailing from Toronto, July Talk comes to Ottawa quite frequently, at Ottawa Bluesfest multiple times, the Algonquin Commons Theatre, and initially at Zaphods (Now The 27 Club) when they first started out.

Closing the concert series last night was Metric. Emily Haines has been the heart and soul, and in my opinion, the reason for Metric’s profound success since they formed in 1998. Like Leah Fay of July Talk, her voice has a very distinct sound that sets Metric apart from other bands. Considering the creative writing of their music, it’s hard to pigeonhole their songs into a specific genre, so like many bands who fall into that situation, they are considered “Alt-Rock,” along with July Talk. The lighting was incredible for Metric, so kudos to the lighting design team! (The technical elements of a concert often get left out of reviews and is generally under-appreciated, but do not go unnoticed by me!)

I love Metric. They have so many incredible songs, particularly those released in the 2000’s. They didn’t leave anything out last night, opening with one of their fan-favourites, ‘Dead Disco’. However, as this was a tour for their new album, they tended to focus on their newer releases (which I didn’t realize they had) for the majority of the concert. But they strategically mixed in their classics too, including ‘Breathing Underwater’, ‘Gold Guns Girls’, and ‘Gimme Sympathy’. I find the sound of their newer songs to be a little more hard-core than what I have come to expect from them, but that could have simply been due to artistic creativity during a live show. Metric played a 5-6 song encore, which was appreciated, as they still had some top hits to play! ‘Monster Hospital’ was by far their best performance of the night! They closed with ‘Help I’m Alive’ and ‘Now or Never Now’ from their new album. It was a great show, but I left wanting to hear ‘Combat Baby’ which didn’t make the cut for the set list this time. However, when I walked out of the stadium, DJ Noah from Live 88.5 was playing it in the street! All in all, it was a really great night, seeing two of my favourite groups play!

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