You get the impression that Arcade Fire really give a damn. For a lot of their fans, their albums are a focus of adolescence, a moment of discovery, an awakening. It’s clear from the faces that were intermittently lit up by the dazzling light rigs and discoball-reflections that their winces of emotional release came from deep within. Arcade Fire seem like the kind of band that can be trusted with such tender emotions as nostalgia and self-identity.
To the delight of the faithful, they played a setlist heavy with those treasured songs from the ‘burbs and Funeral. In fact, the setlist was so near to a ‘best of’ set, it’s got many thinking that this was a bit of a dress rehearsal for their Glastonbury set in the summer. It was no rehearsal in terms of delivery though. The band has tightened up and polished their performance of Reflektor songs since last year’s shows, and now the tracks, even despite their scope and the fact they feature most instruments under the sun, sound outstanding.
There were lots of extra bits and bobs that made the show special. Something you probably won’t see if you’re lucky enough to have a Glasto ticket is Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch join AF on stage to do a killer duet of ‘The Cutter’. Singer Win Butler knew they (‘they’.. the man presumably) are knocking down Earl’s Court, deriding how it’ll be turned into expensive ‘condos’. “Get your bids in now. Hope they’re cheap,” he snarled. They know about these things. The costumes were great, as was seeing Régine Chassagne play about twelve different instruments, from full drum kit through hurdy-gurdy to accordion, it’s a truly amazing live spectacle. There were intelligently choreographed dance pieces, great video footage and even a poor soul dressed head to toe in mirror fragments to introduce the band to the stage.
It was great to see a show where the message of the songs, the actions of the band, and the spirit of the performance all aligned, and if that’s the last gig I see at Earls Court, I will consider it a fond farewell.