Jan 29, 2014

Arcade Fire @ Qantas Credit Union Arena

If Arcade Fire didn't exist then someone would need to invent them. They are a crashing thump of endless humanity. A never ending well of excitement. A planet load of fun. There is a very good reason why they are considered one of the finest live acts on the planet. Each and every show feels like a special one off event. Each show creates a new disciple. Spread the word people, Arcade Fire are just something out of this world. Which I find curious, because I believe the whole is greater then the sum of the parts. Sure they are extremely talented, but there are weaknesses. Win Butler is a good but not great singer. Their melodies are sweeping but not especially intricate. Lyrically they range from inspirational to bombastic. But, but when you add it all together it's as good as music gets. And when you place them in the live arena it can sometimes feel life changing.

Arcade Fire, like most acts, have evolved over the years. In 2013 they returned with album number four in "Reflektor". The album, to my mind, was a qualified success. There were some great songs there but also some average ones. The band was trying for a sound that was more rhythmical with synthesizers taking a more prominent role. I admired their approach but perhaps not the execution. How would they play out live. Well, it worked and it didn't. After Win, Regine and Owen (yes that was Owen Pallett) opened on the side of the dance floor with "My Body Is a Cage" the band launched into the title track of their new album. This song has left me cold but live it grew another leg. Its deep rhythms pounding a hole in the dance floor. However I found "Flashbulb Eyes" and "Joan of Arc" to feel as stagnant live as on record. Wedged in between was the classic "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)". Somehow I think this was a mistake. I think this powerhouse would have better placed at the end of the night. But after this the night flowed with raging adventure and excitement. Win serenading us on piano with "The Suburbs" was superb and new songs such as "It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus) and "Afterlife" were quite stunning live. "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" was just irresistible and "No Cars Go" near tore my head off. I think this was my highlight of the night. Of course "Rebellion (Lies) was received with rapture and the confetti during "Here Comes the Night Time" just added to the party atmosphere already created. By the time the all world "Wake Up" closed the night we were totally and utterly in the hands of Arcade Fire. Even in a large setting I felt an intimate connection to everyone there. Somehow, even as the band have gained a larger audience with every album they still manage to make you feel as if you are part of secret club that no one else knows about. That I think is their ultimate magic. Human glue.   

Set List
My Body Is a Cage (stripped down snippet; just Win, RĂ©gine and Owen in the crowd)
Flashbulb Eyes
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Joan of Arc
The Suburbs
The Suburbs (Continued)
Ocean of Noise
It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
No Cars Go
Keep the Car Running
Normal Person
Rebellion (Lies)
Devil Inside (INXS cover)
Here Comes the Night Time

Ready to Start
Wake Up


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