Arcade Fire, 02 Arena, London
Friday 03 December 2010
I have seen Arcade Fire in a small church and in a packed Hackney Empire. Now they are bounding onstage at the O2 Arena as if born to the role. Their ascent has been rapid and has been all the more surprising given the peculiarity of their music, a bewildering panoply of strings and things. Significantly, they do not seem out of place here. As an octet, they are not dwarfed by a stage this size. The same applies to their sound.
At the O2, their stage energy seems natural. They bound out of the blocks with the infectious, lolloping boogie of "Ready to Start" and keep the momentum building with "Keep the Car Running", conjuring whirligig noise from mandolin, hurdy-gurdy, violins and frantically hammered piano, belting out the choruses with cult-like fervour. Most rock bands bring a gang mentality to music; there is more of a family feeling about Arcade Fire. But as in big families, individuals have to be extroverted to get noticed.
Tall and thin, with the intellectual charisma of a David Byrne, frontman Win Butler commands the stage, establishing an easy rapport with comments about the snowy weather and our demonstrating students.
The set is drawn mostly from The Suburbs and Funeral, with a few choice cuts from Neon Bible, such as the stirring "No Cars Go". There is barely a track that doesn't sound like a call to arms. "Here's a song about growing up in Houston, Texas," says Butler, introducing "The Suburbs", "but it might as well be London, England – we got the same shit everywhere now."
This acknowledgement of our collective isolation may be what attracts so many to Arcade Fire, so it is ironic to find this most individual-sounding of groups selling out the O2. It is heartening, then, that they manage to shrink the cavernous space to a more human size.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If I were Prime Minister: I'd give tax cuts to the rich, keep Trident, and get my football team wrong
- 2 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
Eurovision 2015: What date is the song contest and who are the favourites to win?
Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 4, review: Sansa in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Noel Gallagher 'cannot wait' to hear Oasis-inspired One Direction album but rants about 'pointless' Tidal and Spotify
The highly NSFW poster for Gaspar Noé's Love makes Nymphomaniac look like 50 Shades
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show