Arcade Fire @ London's Earls Court
Arcade Fire warmed up for their Glastonbury headline performance later this month with two huge shows at London's Earls Court, we were there to review the first of them...
Arcade Fire. Montreal based purveyors of glorious, life-affirming music.
Earl’s Court. Soon to be demolished arena come conference centre in a corner of West London.
Any good supports?
Owen Pallett, frequent collaborator with Arcade Fire, opened things up. His strange mixture of frenzied percussions and stabs of violin didn't elicit much beyond polite applause, but this was Arcade Fire's crowd, just there for one thing.
Was it full? And how were the crowd?
It was absolutely stuffed full, not a spare seat or spot in the arena to be found. The crowd were on excellent form, moving with Arcade Fire's endless mood and genre shifts, they danced their assess off when it was the time for dancing, jumped when it was time to jump and stood there in wonder in the quieter moments.
So what was the set like? What did they play?
The set was split evenly between material from the band's new grand opus Reflektor and their earlier records. Kicking off with the LCD Soundsystem influneced title track and the jagged disco of 'Flashbulb Eyes', the band then worked their way through 'Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)' and 'Rebellion (Lies)' from their debut album Funeral. Highlights from The Suburbs 'Rococo' and 'Ready To Start' followed, with an unexpected pleasure coming halfway through the set when frontman Win Butler welcomed Echo & The Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch onstage to sing a riotous version of his band's classic single 'The Cutter'.
The latter half of the set was just as euphoric with highlights including a spine tingling rendition of 'Haiti', the bombastic 'No Cars Go' and the ornate 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)', which closed the main set. The encore brought out two of Reflektor's outstanding moments, the driving rock of 'Normal Person', the offbeat carnival that is 'Here Comes The Night', before the set came to a stunning end with 'Wake Up, which turned the whole of Earls Court into one huge choir.
Any good between song banter?
Frontman Butler was clearly enjoying himself, telling the crowd that this was the best show they'd played in London (they've played quite a few over the years), aside from that it was mostly thank yous, which is all very nice.
Did they put on much of a show?
The band pulled out all the stops, in their own, bizarre way. Already a full seven piece band when they've toured in the past, there were 11 on stage at times during the show, with lots of extra percussion. This made a sound that already feels like it can move continents sound ever grander and more all encompassing.
As for the show, the band preceded their set with a strange bit of audience participation, with various crowd members invited up to hit a Reflektor themed pinata. Once the set kicked off, the stage was decked out in mirrors and backed by a huge video wall. A troupe of dancers also appeared in the centre of the auditorium on a raised platform to perform routines during the set's dancier moments. If this all sounds bizarre, it was. It was also totally captivating.
What was the highlight of the set?
There wasn't one bum note or false move all night, but if you're going to make us choose, then the moment where the riotous crescendo of 'Neighborhood#3 (Power Out)' gave way to the glorious piano intro of 'Rebellion (Lies)'.
Where can I catch them next?
They're back to headline some festival called Glastonbury at the end of the month, then they headline Hyde Park on July 3rd.
Arcade Fire's new album Reflektor is out now in hmv stores all over the UK and can be previewed by clicking on the icon on the right-hand side of the page.