Sunday, August 31, 2014

Arcade Fire -- All In

United Center - ChicagoIL - Tue, August 26
 Arcade Fire's show--and I do mean "show"--was very impressive. They brought it all--Confetti, balloons, lights, mirrors, costumes (with big-head masks), a revolving second stage, even a disco ball for a song or two (This latter, and its frame, intruded on my line of sight.) The only thing missing was Fireworks (they were not needed).

Here's a brief video of the Reflektor Guy, who emerged on the second stage and spun slowly with intense light beams shone on him. Unfortunately, my miserable camera couldn't contain the glare: 

They brought passion and great musicianship, with an expanded group: I counted 12 people. Besides the three principals (Win Butler, brother Will, wife Regine), and the familiar members on bass, drums, violin, and guitar, they added two extra percussionists and horns.
It reminded me of the classic expanded Talking Heads band of the early '80's in many ways--crossing multiple genres, the sense of joy. They have accentuated the Caribbean music influence and brought forward Regine's role. I would say that the current release shows a surprising turn toward a "nouveau disco"--leave it to the Francophones for that-- (or at least rave/house/electronic sound), but definitely toward higher production value--no garage/grunge here, though there were a couple of songs with full-bore, chaotic noise.
The selection of songs--both from the new album an from the old ones--was pretty much impeccable. They didn't insist on playing all the songs from "Reflektor", and that pleased the crowd, which knew all the words, particularly from the oldest albums.
I have to admit my familiarity pretty much ends with "Neon Bible" and "The Suburbs", but the crowd (all ages, I should say) seemed to be AF loyalists from the beginning. The invite suggested cool formal wear or costume; it was optional, really, but all part of getting people engaged in the show in a way comparable with the artists' own evident commitment.
The show started on time with '80's punk/electronic ironists Devo and had a great middle session with DJ Dan Deacon, who did a good job getting the crowd involved and using the large space left open at the back of the floor area.
Great program, great performance.
Favorite moment: Win forgot what day it was (did he really forget?), and used that "memory lapse" to launch a song he wrote 20 years ago.

Setlist: 1. Here Comes the Night Time
2. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
3. Joan of Arc/My Body is a Cage
4. Month of May
5. The Suburbs
6. Ready to Start
7. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
8. We Exist
9. Reflektor
10. Keep the Car Running
11. No Cars Go
12. Haiti
13. Afterlife
14. It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
15. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
16. Who Do You Love (Bo Diddley)
17. Normal Person
18. Rebellion (Lies)
19. Wake Up
(from Greg Kot's review in Chicago Tribune)

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