Arcade Fire, Edinburgh Castle

4.00

Anthems for a suburban tomorrow

"This is one of the most beautiful settings we've ever played," notes Win Butler, somewhat understatedly. "I thought the castle was in suburban Edinburgh. I thought it was at the mall or something."

It's at once the most perfect and the least appropriate venue for the UK return of Arcade Fire, one of only a couple of large-scale shows the Canadian outfit are playing this time out. The stunning Castle Esplanade setting, with banks of new seats fitted for last month's Edinburgh Military Tattoo facing a stage set against the torchlit battlements of the Castle, resonates with the epic richness of their music.

Since last year's third album, The Suburbs, though, Butler, his wife Régine Chassagne and their band have come to eulogise those malls and identical picket-fenced avenues, the blank, middle class dormitory spaces light years from the medieval monument serving as backdrop here. That Arcade Fire's nostalgia-infused set manages to introduce the grandeur of their location to the uninspiring neighbourhoods serving as their current muse is an exercise in quite unexpected synchronicity.

Before they're even onstage, the young to middle-aged crowd are conjuring childhood memories thanks to a crackling montage of classic teen movie trailers, from Over the Edge and The Warriors to the band's own, Spike Jonze-directed, Scenes from the Suburbs. "Ready to Start" is a subdued opener, perhaps chosen for its title as much as anything, but "Keep the Car Running" and "No Cars Go" quickly find an elegiac tone, with Butler suggesting the crowd "dance your ass off" to fight the autumnal chill.

The Caribbean tone of "Haiti" is accompanied by the voice of Chassagne, her glitter-fringed white puffball skirt blowing in the breeze, while the video backdrop reflects the band's aesthetic blend: pipe organs and glowing gothic candlesticks during "Intervention", and amber-sunlit pylons, highrises and freeway exit signs for "Suburban War", the latter melting into the familiar riff of "Wake Up". The devastatingly understated "The Suburbs" also ends on a segue, this time into the raw punk-pop of "Month of May", as the main set finishes on Chassagne's "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)", freshly beamed in from John Hughes' 1980s, the singer looking like Molly Ringwald and combining the deliveries of Kate Bush and Toyah.

As the curfew and firework-popping finale draw near there's just time for a two-song encore culminating in "Rebellion (Lies)", with Butler's brother William scaling the scaffold beating a drum, its reverberating echo that of a band who successfully stepped off the streets to make this most intimidating of venues their comfortable new home.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk