Arcade Fire, Hyde Park, 30 June 2011

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The Independent Culture

Arcade Fire’s live shows always seem to present a sort of organised chaos that you either love or hate, but judging by this sold-out Hyde Park gig – their largest UK show to date – they don’t have to worry too much about the latter.

It’s hard to believe that their debut album Funeral was released all the way back in 2004, with only two albums to follow: Neon Bible (2007) and last year’s The Suburbs. Having already won three accolades this year alone, including a Grammy for Album of the Year and a Brit for Best International Album, the Arcade Fire have catapulted from curious enigma to infectious phenomenon.

The energy and enthusiasm exuded by this quirky Canadian group was the perfect soundtrack to take the crowd from a balmy summer evening to an electric black night, throwing some of their greatest (dare I say) ‘anthems’ - ‘Intervention’, ‘Keep The Car Running’ - at a transfixed crowd, as well as their latest single, ‘Speaking In Tongues’.

As well as their rousing, emotive lyrics the eight-piece continually swap a fascinating assortment of musical instruments between them and one of their openers - ‘Wake Up’ - had just that effect on the crowd with its medley of violins, obscure percussion and Win Butler’s roaring, compelling voice.

Despite somewhat appalling sound the gig gathered pace at a feverish rate, fuelling the crowd to new heights and challenging anyone there not to join in with the delightfully key-changing ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ whose aura clung to Hyde Park long after the song had finished.

The Arcade Fire continued to toy with the emotions of an adoring crowd to the end, finishing with the nostalgic ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’ and the Abba-esque ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’, sustaining a euphoric and enchanted atmosphere to the last. Their fervent exuberance arguably matched - if not exceeded - that of the crowd and the experience was definitely one to brag about in our festivals-by-numbers era.

Next year Hyde Park, sort out the devastatingly disappointing sound – the AF deserved so much better!