There is a lot to be said about a stadium-sized band taking on the intimate venue that is The Roundhouse, and when I use the term ‘stadium-sized band’ I’m not just referring to the high number of personnel. Last night I got swept up in the glitz of The Reflektors whistlestop tour, the front Arcade Fire have chosen to adopt in order to get through some intimate gigs before plowing on with the World tour they will no doubt carry out early next year.
For them it was a special event, and not just because one of their favourite British bands took to the same stage in 1976. It’s a chance to dress up and to make more of a celebration than is possible when your songs are getting caught on the wind and dragged out across Hyde Park for slack-jawed cider-drunks in straw porkpie hats to churn back at you in off-key retorts. The joy of going to see The Reflektors is that it wasn’t a gig. It was an event.
As my lucky date and I got out of the queue and onto the red carpet we knew we were in for something a little different. In the entrance stood a six piece mariachi band playing cover songs. The walls were lined in glitter. The fans were lined in glitter, with strips of black across their eyes. Designated facepainters were on hand and everywhere dripped with the vibration of contact.
We headed in and got a gin. There was still an hour before the band were due onstage. Standing to the left of the shielded stage we could make out the glittering mirrored backdrop and the lights of roadies performing a soundcheck. The stage was supposed to be covered by a black cape which had ‘The Reflektors’ on it in lights.
Slowly the room filled. The queues of people waiting from the door all the way back to the petrol station by the Proud galleries took over the space. Leaning against the wall was a man in a hood and a skeleton mask who turned out to be Win Butler. He watched us all and then went out into the lobby to sing a cover of Reflektor with the mariachi band.
DJ Don Letts continued to play dragged out mixes of Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and The Clash until the band took to the stage and the crowd erupted. The cape dropped to the floor and there they were, coated in their own designs and with mirrorballs overhead the band burst into the opening of the seven minutes that is Reflektor.
‘We are The Reflektors from Canada. The one place you finally get to suck it to to French!’ said Win.
From then on I was lost to the trance of Flashbulb Eyes complete with steel drum accompaniment to match the mood adopted by the band for their new album. This slowly dropped into the intro of PowerOut. When the song finally dropped fully the crowd went wild and red lights bounced across painted faces. From then on it was very Reflektor heavy; Joan Of Arc, You Already Know, We Exist, It’s Never Over (Hey Orpehus) and the intro of Porno which bled into Afterlife. The band then composed themselves and played Haiti, taking it back to Funeral once more before the powerful Normal Person.
Win put his papier-mâché head on and Will sung Bored Of The USA, a song they dedicated to Don Letts. I was in awe. The pure joy of seeing Arcade Fire cover The Clash live was lost on most people but I punched the air and sang along. This was followed by Here Comes The Nighttime complete with silver confetti. This was the moment when the gonks took out their iPhones en masse to try and capture it. Bobbing and weaving between the light from the screens I watched the band I love salute, wave and walk off in a hail of feedback.
They returned for Sprawl II and Supersymmetry, the former played live without a sequencer for the first time thanks to the ten person band on stage. If you’re not able to perform your own song live without ten people then you’re doing something right.
I’m glad I got to see them in such an intimate venue and I am even happier I got to share it with her.
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