Win Butler and the rest of the band entered the arena like a prize fighter and his entourage. This isn’t some attempt at a clever metaphor between sports and music. I mean the stage was literally a boxing ring and at the start of the show they are filmed fighting their way through the crowd, a jumbo screen displaying each band members stats it reads: “Win Butler losses- none, not even one”.
It’s a pretty audacious start but the Canadian collective have the material to back it up with Everything Now sporting piano and vocal melodies that have a timeless vibe and on the beguiling Here Comes The Night Time growling synths meet Sesame Street glockenspiels. At the midway point of the evening Win halts proceeding to introduce local hero Jim Kerr of Simple Minds for a nostalgia dripping rendition of Don’t You Forget About Me. He struts the stage in his long black raincoat like a tubby Neo from The Matrix. Predictably the crowd, from millennial’s to mums and dads go ape, and to be fair it’s pretty rousing and entertaining stuff.
I’m by no means an Arcade Fire superfan but I do have a really soft spot for The Suburbs and Funeral and both are well represented tonight, particularly the former with a plaintive airing for the title track that somehow manages to feel intimate among an audience of thousands. During their performance the band take full advantage of their unique stage and set, swapping positions and instruments and ensuring those close to the stage remain engaged and Regine Chassagne even ventures into the sprawl for a little bit of a boogie.
There is a ten minute period where I tune out a little bit during a short run of songs from Reflektor. It’s an album that I’ve never heard and the songs and performance just weren’t doing it for me for some reason. When Arcade Fire return for an encore with their support band The Preservation Hall Jazz Band they win my wholehearted attention back with a reprise of Everything Now and a rendition of Wake Up that has the crowd in a frenzy. They came in like fighters but they leave the stage marching band style with the Jazz Band providing brass backing for an on the move version of Bowie’s Rebel Rebel.
For more on Arcade Fire and their tour click here.
Photo courtesy of Anton Corbijn.