I was hesitant to see the Arcade Fire, not only worrying about a let down from the heights and excellence that they had showcased when I've seen them previously. The main worry is that the energy may dissipate when the venue multiplies in size into a cavernous location in the west 30's. It's easier to block these negative issues out when after a half dozen spins, the album fits neatly in their canon as another piece of excellent work, chock full of anthemic blasts and even a straightforward punkish/Clinic-esque track in "Month of May."
But don't fear, Arcade Fire has exuberance and stage presence/antics to easily fill an arena and more. Renditions of their standards a couple of the Neighborhoods, "Rebellion (Lies)," "Keep The Car Running" were as rousing as ever. After the first track, the band had already blown the doors off the mediocre set from special guests Spoon, who I usually enjoy seeing but watching them do some of their latest tracks along with "Underdog" didn't do much for me. Their highlights were the highlights off the Ga Ga Ga... album with the wailing laced, histrionic filled "Cherry Bomb" & a personal fav in "Don't Make Me a Target" (a song that would make for a very funny Walmart ad).
If you want some proof of the energy Win Butler gave the crowd take a look at this video of him running as far as I've seen a singer get into the crowd during a song, and even doing a good job of singing most of the lyrics from the song.
Usually I'd be able to provide more videos but it's hard not to sing when Arcade Fire are at their best (AKA ruing the video for mass consumption). I did get one good one of one of the best songs off The Suburbs (there might be a bit of extra vocals from the cameraman as well).
The newer material wasn't as fine tuned as the more well-worn tracks, as evidenced by a restart of the mistimed 2nd of a three song encore, the very 80s-ish, new wave "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)." But at least three or four look to be fixtures for their future touring, the infectious up-tempo "Ready to Start," the jangly eponymous track, along with the previously mentioned excellence of "Rococo" & "Month of May."
Time wise, one might wish for a song or two more but they had given so much already and reached the major highpoints and it wasn't necessary. A small comment on their video display/lighting, it felt very much in theme with the album, unobtrusive, and complimentary. It didn't take over from what was going on the stage and gave the eyes a visual treat here and there, projecting a smudgy time lapse of a highway ramp in the background with the adapted band footage on a small, recreated drive-in theater screen.
Thank you Arcade Fire, you truly surpassed my expectations and made me glad that I made the effort to attend. The new album is good but I think the BBC might have gone a bit overboard, calling it better than OK Computer (BBC via Brooklyn Vegan). I won't allow this post to descend into the dark depths of anger this statement might usually provoke inside of me. Suffice to say, it is not a true statement and that someone form the BBC may deserve to be shot for the opinion. I know it's just an opinion but... alright I'm stopping now (and I don't condone murder except in the case of .)
Below is a quick slideshow of photos I took (along with a highlight for myself, a photo with David Byrne of the Talking Heads):