The funny thing about Arcade Fire is that they don’t just appeal to the indie music crowd. You’ve got the alternative listeners (aka hipsters) in one corner who swear “Funeral” was their best and that the last two albums are just OK (aka too mainstream) and you have the average joe who listens to rock n’ roll radio and knows all the major singles. They are a rare breed of indie musicians turned rock stars and they were a force to be reckoned with at the Wells Fargo Center.
First of all, can I just say how awesome it was that a lot of people dressed up in formal wear/costumes? I guess all that backlash was for nothing, because I would say that easily half of the audience obeyed the requested dress code. There was even someone dressed as an Easter bunny! It really brought the fans together and maybe other artists would be wise to follow suit.
To say the show was a spectacle, would be a severe understatement. The aesthetic seemed to be equal parts jungle-boogie and sparkle-futuristic and the sound of their set seemed to mimic those themes as well. The band seem to be coming delightfully and dangerously close to Talking Heads territory with the size of the touring band. I counted at least 2 drummers, 3 if you count the percussionist, a violinist, a saxophonist and the band themselves. After reading many other reviews about their 2013/2014 shows, it seemed like each one was different so the audience was guaranteed a fresh show from start to finish.
The show started out with the dynamic duo known as Win Butler and Regine Chassagne at the far end of the arena (closest to the back) on a raised platform. It was a very sparse version of “My Body is a Cage” from “Neon Bible” featuring Win on vocals and Regine on a small drum kit. A man wearing a completely mirrored suit stood at the front of them not moving. Was it some sort of symbolic gesture or the band trying to hold on to their indie cred? This was my question at several points of the night, but we’ll get to that later. After that, the two ran from the back of the arena to the front to dive into their super catchy “Reflektor”.
The band played a great many songs off the “Reflektor” album, but surprisingly enough, played half of the “Funeral” album. What was disappointing was the lack of “Neon Bible” songs (only two total) and I left feeling slightly disappointed.
While I thought the concert was entertaining and I would definitely pay the billion dollars in taxes + bullcrap fees again, I feel like Arcade Fire is trying to hold onto that last remaining shred of cred they had when they weren’t touring big arenas and winning Grammy’s. Arcade Fire is no longer an indie band, and when you can see countless stereotypical bros who know the words to all your songs, you need to keep in mind that the art school dramatics and weird for the sake of being weird, is being lost on your new audience. I personally enjoyed the bizarre skeleton dancers who writhed and led choreographed dances and I didn’t mind that random mirror suit dude, but people seemed to be confused. I am fully aware that I am complaining about something that makes me love this band, but it went unappreciated by other concert goers. What can you do?
While the band had little interaction with their audience, they did get laughs after making a Katy Perry comment and really brought the house down with an amazing rendition of Boyz II Men’s “Motown Philly”. Here’s their set-list below:
My Body is a Cage
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Joan of Arc
The Suburbs II
Ready to Start
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
No Cars Go
Motown Philly (Boyz II Men cover)
Here Comes the Nighttime