The Ripples of Arcade Fire
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, December 11th, 2010
Arcade Fire at Central (G-Mex), Manchester
There are few times in a person's gig going career that one feels one is in the epicentre but tonight is surely one of those nights. Every publication on the planet has something great to say about The Suburbs while the wisdom of all things popular museo Q Magazine dubs them the band of the year. Arcade Fire are - perhaps - the most acclaimed and respected band on the planet, and they have just taken the stage.
They are legion, Arcade Fire, with a octet of instruments and as many players although those switch as the evening goes on. The start is low key with Ready To Start but shift into thrashing with Month of May both from the latest album before dodging back to 2004's Funeral for Neighborhood #2 (Laika).
So the patten for the night emerges. New tracks are pumped into with vigour and passion but always backed up with something from the six year old concept album that broke the band world wide. The freezing conditions of recent days - receding in the North of England - colour Neighborhoods #1 and #3 which pulsate bookending a the more recent We Used to Wait. Win Bulter falls on his backside as he sings, he smiles.
"Few things better than watching the singer of a rock n' roll band fall on his ass" says Win. As a front man he is cut from the same cloth as a David Byrne or a Michael Stipe. He fashion of imagery in his songs and his dress are welcomed into the mainstream to the point where they will inevitably become the mainstream.
Bulter checks his Manchester credentials - The Suburbs it turns out is based out the riff from The Smiths' There is a Light That Never Goes Out - but for all his left leanings his band's accent into the centre of music which this City once represented seems inexorable. Indeed with over half of the massively popular Funeral and two from Neon Bible played it seems that the band have an awareness of what the mass of audience might want to see.
Which is not to criticise a band for playing songs like Rebellion (Lies) or Wake Up which are anthemic and very ready for stadium rock - they are superb songs, superbly played and etched into the mind of any who see them - but to not that the purest moment of the evening comes at the second part of the encore when Régine Chassagne steps forward for a second time - she had put in a luscious version of Haïti - and enthuses though Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).
It is this moment in which Arcade Fire excel. The anthems are wondrous, but it is the lyrical detail with a life poured into by Chassagne which inspires an awe. Carving a new meaning from the lyrical whist on escaping suburbia Chassagne comes alive as she heavy heartedly commands "I need some darkness now/someone please cut the lights."
The song turns from the rebellion of the suburbs to the call back from afar. A statement honest and true on behalf of the band that one escape leads to another entrapment.
This is not the epicentre tonight. The epicentre happened some six year ago and ripples out no doubt to reach a stadium near you. Arms aloft, singing as loud as a crowd can.
Listen though, for the quietness.