Arcade Fire

“Leave your jacket in the car” they said. And so, that is how you find the author, standing underneath the flashing neon facade which slowly cycles through the word Barrowland, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. He is cold.

When his friends finally turn up, replete with jumpers and jackets, the buggers, they troop in and head upstairs. Before they reach the main ‘ballroom’ music starts pulsing through the building. The support act, Patrick Wolf, is on stage. As we head out into the gathered crowd we catch glimpses of the man himself, and after a brief discussion we agree that, whilst the gold sequinned leggings are NOT a good look they do at least match his eye makeup.

The author pauses at this point and decides, fuck it, and returns to his normal writing style.

So yes, Patrick Wolf was pretty good and went down well. Not a huge surprise really, his stuff is pretty catchy and most of the audience probably have his albums as he sits alongside (underneath?) Arcade Fire in the musical genre tree.

Now, at this point I’ll pause and confess that I’ve only listened to the new Arcade Fire album a couple of times and have yet to be fully won over. This seems to be the pattern though as it took me some months to fully appreciate their first album. However, as their new album was only released a matter of days before the gig last night, well it didn’t leave me much time to ‘fall in love’ with Neon Bible.

That said, the band are a fairly awesome site on stage. With most of the 10 members chopping and changing instruments in a, frankly, insulting manner. How dare they be so talented!

And it was on stage that the new album was really sold to me. It may be a production issue, but to me the album sounds awfully flat, not so live. Pounding drums set most songs to a frantic pace, and provided the heartbeat of the gig. However, it was when they headed to their first album that things really got going, with some rousing performances of Power Out, and Tunnels soon transforming the audience into one huge singing, yelling, clapping and bouncing mass. My friends and I weren’t even that near the front but still got swept along as the songs crashed over us.

Arcade Fire are a very accomplished band but unfortunately were let down a little last night. The PA wasn’t that well balanced which reduced some songs to little more than a noise and a beat, and whilst the energy the band expel is palpable, they lack a true frontman or anyone who will grab the crowd, involve them, and haul them along for the ride. At times it did seem a bit like it was ‘another performance’, which I guess is understandable.

That makes it sound like it was a bad gig, it most certainly wasn’t.

The music lends itself mass participation, and the closing song (Wake Up) includes a crowd friendly chant during which the lead singer gave up trying to wrestle with his microphone and dove headlong into the audience. It’s possible that it was simply an act of frustration, or perhaps, just maybe, he thought it would help cement the gig in the hearts of the fans.

He needn’t have bothered, we were already lost in the moment with him.


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