Wizards of o2

Arcade Fire do yet more to bolster my view of them as the greatest band around…

On Wednesday night at the O2 in Greenwich Marshes North Greenwich I saw the Arcade Fire deliver a performance of such power and consistent quality that I was transfixed. I’ve argued before that they are the outstanding band of the current era, and this just underlined it. What struck me most was that, with three albums (and the original EP from which they played ‘No Cars Go’), the 1hr 40m set was comprised almost entirely of (albeit young) classics. Having only owned the new album a few months the standout tracks already feel like anthems, so opening with the Clash-like call-to-arms of ‘Ready to start‘ made as much sense as its name would imply.

Highlights included ‘Neighbourhood #2 (Laïka)’ which was taut and menacing; ethereal disco march ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains’ was beautiful and joyous; and ‘The Suburbs’ is choking in its (seemingly) honest biographical voice. ‘Intervention’ segued into a pounding ‘Power Out’; then came a sublime ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ and ‘Month of May’, showcasing the full arsenal of anthemic-to-driving-rock tunes at their disposal without the set ever sounding incoherent. Even when things calmed down, such as during ‘Haïti’ or ‘Rococo’, there was a sonic unity and a feeling only of pause, not of disjuncture.

The Arcade Fire

The main set ended with ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’, just one of many songs (most obviously final encore ‘Wake Up’) which had the whole crowd oohing and aahing in unison. It is a measure of the both the quality and the accessibility of the new album that they could use ‘We used to wait’ as the first song of the encore. It is heartbreaking yet uplifting (that old trick which works so well when done properly, from Bach to Radiohead), being a declaration of independence for a certain frame of mind.

The full setlist is available here, and this is a video of Wednesday’s performance of ‘Intervention’ which was as wonderful as ever.

Published in: on December 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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