Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mini review: Arcade Fire at the Roundhouse

I'm not sure Arcade Fire have quite grasped the concept of pseudonyms.

"We're the Reflektors," announces Win Butler on stage at the Roundhouse. "That's our fake band name. We've been a fake band since 19-fakety-fake."

Not that anyone is fooled. Even when the musicians emerge on stage wearing tiger masks, we're all pretty certain this is Arcade Fire. After all, what are the chances that two bands would make such a compelling noise whilst looking like a multi-instrumental version of The Addams Family?

But Butler (dressed in a black and white inkblot tuxedo and what can only be described as pajama bottoms) insists on keeping the artifice alive. He introduces Power Out (from their first album) as an Arcade Fire cover, and later improvises the lyrics "People from art school playing in a fake band. People from art school pretending to do art" over a strummed guitar.

But for all the costumes and smokescreens, the band are playing their most emotionally honest and open-hearted music to date. And it shows.

Augmented by fantastic Haitian percussion duo Diol and Twill, they fulfill the rock + disco + carnival ambitions of their new album much more successfully than on the record itself. There's a giddy party vibe, with the audience largely sporting face paints and costumes, from black tie and gold suits to, in one case, a crocodile onesie. What's more, everyone is on their feet. Beside me, a wonderful, spontaneous dance breaks out during Here Comes The Night Time, as everyone starts bobbing up and down in time to the lolloping, reggae-inspired rhythms.

And it turns out this is exactly what the band were hoping for. "We wanted to translate the spirit of something we'd experienced at carnival in Haiti to a way people back home would understand it," Butler recently told Time Out. "It was the first time I enjoyed dancing as part of a huge crowd."

He's definitely bowled over by the fans' willingness to join in at Monday's show. "Everyone that embraced the fancy dress, you look great and we love you," he says. "To everyone who felt uncomfortable... I'm not sorry.

"The percentage of people getting laid tonight is up like 10,000% on a normal show. As long as you shower. That's the secret, boys".

By the end of the set, the band are even promising to come out and dance with the fans in the auditorium (Much as I'd have loved to, I'm afraid I didn't stick around for the Arcade Fire dance throwdown - but any video evidence would be most welcome.)

It'll be interesting to see how this party atmosphere translates to the inevitable arena dates and festival appearances next year. Let's hope they manage it because, on last night's evidence, Arcade Fire - who always seemed to be having a private party on stage - have finally found a way to get everyone involved.


Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Flashbulb Eyes
Joan of Arc
You Already Know
We Exist
It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
My Body Is a Cage (a capella)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Normal Person
Uncontrollable Urge (Devo cover)
Here Comes the Night Time

Crown of Love

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