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Emily Haines

June 3, 2010

Vivid Sydney

Ok. So the second thing from my jam-packed Tuesday night was seeing Emily Haines at the Opera House, as part of Sydney’s Vivid Festival. I had to run from Matt’s exhibition to catch a train down to Circular Quay, and then hoof it down the concourse. Wow. That walk is seriously long when you’re running late. I made it with a minute to spare!

Our seats were amazing, in row C. I felt like if I stretched out my arm, I could touch her sparkling beaded jacket. So amazing! Metric is perhaps my longest standing favourite band. I’ve gone from feverishly downloading illicit unreleased tracks on Soulseek, staying up late to match time differences and swap mp3s with friends overseas – to feeling extreme validation earlier this year when I finally heard a Metric song being voted into 2010’s Hottest 100. Australia’s finally discovering one of my favourite bands, and I love it.

Tuesday night was a world apart from the gritty, glossy, utterly brilliant Metric gig at the Metro last year. This was Emily Haines sans band, and sans rock accoutrements. Well. Sort of. The tight leather pants, and glittery get up were still there – but instead of band members, there was a string quartet. And a grand piano. And a guy with a macbook pro.

The weirdest thing was the sitting down. And the polite clapping. And the lack of sing-a-longs.

But still – in a night of seeing things in new contexts, this certainly fitted the pattern. She sang songs from Metric’s latest album, Fantasies – completely stripped down and rearranged for strings and piano. It’s weird how different the lyrics sounded. It made me smile to discover that expletives were substituted for something more appropriate for the setting and audience. Instead of feeling bashful, the deliberate pauses felt like in-jokes.

Suddenly you lost the glamour and rock posturing; all that’s left was her crazy incredible pure voice. And her warmth towards the audience – not something that is usually very Rock. She read a poem of her father’s, (the late jazz poet – Paul Haines), and welcomed him to Sydney. Whether she sings or talks, she is magnetic.

The only bad thing I can say was that it was over way too quickly.

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