Arcade Fire, Beak> review: Castlefield Bowl, Manchester

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Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Ahead of the release of their fifth studio album Everything Now, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson saw Arcade Fire at the top of their game.

They’re a band who have never stood still. Who have always come back from each of their four albums so far with a new sound, a new image and new ideas, while still always sounding unmistakably like Arcade Fire.

Where Funeral and Neon Bible were a more serious era of the Canadian band’s career, with their haunting, anthemic sounds, we now seem to be seeing Win Butler and co with the shackles well and truly off.

Where the opinion splitting Reflektor saw them take inspiration from producer James Murphy, the new material from the forthcoming Everything Now has seen Arcade Fire go full on disco.

Opening with lead single and title track Everything Now, the tone was set. It was a night where the crowd sang every word, every riff, every note back to the band, and even the new tracks received as big a reception as some of the old favourites.

Everything Now was the perfect opener. Some have compared it to ABBA, and with its infectious disco stomp it’s easy to see why. It’s very quickly become one of the band’s most loved tracks.

With a set spanning their five album career, the band have reached a point now where deciding what makes the cut and what misses out must be genuinely difficult. And despite a couple of notable absences, it’s two hours of wall to wall anthems.

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

Rebellion (Lies), Afterlife and Ready to Start all bring the atmosphere to boiling point, as the band really come to life with Win Butler striding into the crowd, while brother Will hurtles around the stage pounding a drum. It’s this energy and theatrics which have built Arcade Fire‘s reputation as one of the best live bands around over the years, and that only seems to be growing as they get older.

Amidst the energy and groove of the likes of Reflektor and Here Comes the Nighttime, tracks such as Intervention, The Suburbs and Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels) show the band at the stirring, heartfelt best, before Régine Chassagne has everyone dancing to the brilliant Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).

Before bringing the set to a close, Butler takes a moment to pay tribute to the city of Manchester. “Thanks for being such a fucking inspiration to the rest of the world” he said, before launching into a huge, awe-inspiring rendition of Wake Up, invoking a mass singalong which must have been heard for miles around.

The band returned briefly for a stripped back version of Neon Bible, for which the audience held their phone lights aloft creating a sea of stars, before Butler conducted an emotional singalong of Joy Division‘s Love Will Tear Us Apart.

It was a special moment to top of a massively uplifting night. It’s impossible to leave an Arcade Fire show without feeling better about life.

Pictures by Getintothis’ Gary Coughlan.

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  1. David Bentley on

    As good a performance as it was last Thursday I can’t agree that they were ‘at the top of their game’. For me, that was the 2007-8 Neon Bible tour, which has never been surpassed. Part of the reason was that they had top class supporting musicians then in Colin Stetson, Kelly Prat and Marika Anthony-Shaw. It was a 10-person unit, every one a character, and the instrumental mix was perfect. If you don’t believe me watch the 2007 Glastonbury performance; you can still pick up songs from it like Intervention and Wake Up on You Tube even though UMG has done its level best to have them removed. As close to perfection as I’ve seen.

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