Last night I was fortunate enough to see one of my favourite and one of the most interesting, exciting and innovative live bands of modern times play the last gig of their world tour. I wasn’t lucky enough to pay just £2.50 for the privilege but that is another story for another time.
The first time I saw Arcade Fire play, at my first Reading festival in 2007 I felt as if I had experienced some kind of wake up in and of itself. There were more people on the stage than I could count as they jumped between instruments and beat their fists in triumph at their celebration of life, disorder and death. The show was sublime. I was a convert. When The Suburbs was released I couldn’t get tickets for their London show so joined my friend James in Birmingham to watch them and we saw them together again at Reading in 2010 where they headlined after The Libertines.
In December 2013 they put on a number of smaller scale gigs as The Reflektors and I saw them at The Roundhouse as they blasted through the lion’s share of the new album to an adoring and fancy dressed crowd.
The gig last night was the best I have seen them. It was the production they should have been afforded form the beginning. The songs were all there. The audience stuck with them. It was a spectacle as any large scale show should be. Thousands of sets of eyes scanned the mirrored wall to take in what was going on.
The set began with their now infamous bobble heads wandering out onto the stage and taking up instruments to begin what sounded like a bad version of Wake Up. They were quickly shooed away as the band appeared from stage left in their finery to rapturous applause and ripping through Normal Person, Rebellion (Lies) and Joan Of Arc.
Win took bottles of water, sipped from them and sent them hurling out into the crowd between tracks and berated the local ‘rich people’ who had complained about the BST gigs when they were announced earlier in the year. He seemed to have finally found a level of comfort as the frontman for one of the biggest bands in the world. Joan Of Arc was followed by three songs from The Suburbs; Rococo, the title track and Ready To Start, before the band dipped back to Funeral for Neighbourhood #1 and Crown Of Love.
After the call to arms that is We Exist they treated me personally to Intervention, an a’capella Antichrist Television Blues and No Cars Go from my favourite album, Neon Bible, before taking to Reflektor tracks. They finished the main set with a powerful version of Sprawl II, Regine performing her art school dance moves and spinning coloured streamers to cheers from the crowd.
With the lights out and the crowd screaming for more a bobble head of the Pope took to the stage to dance to Sympathy For The Devil before the band returned for an encore where Win told the audience to be quiet because the rich people were trying to sleep. The set ended with Wake Up, as they are almost obliged to do. Will Butler smashing his way around the stage before hurling tambourines and microphones into the audience. The crowd were still singing the refrain when the lights came up on our gawking faces and we were shunned towards an exit.
‘Joan Of Arc’
‘Ready To Start’
‘Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)’
‘Crown Of Love’
‘(Antichrist Television Blues)’
‘No Cars Go’
‘It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)’
‘Here Comes The Night Time’
‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’