Arcade Fire – SSE Arena, Wembley – 11.04.18
With both Everything Now (the album) and the antics of Everything Now Corp (the fake company responsible for the album’s social media campaign, including strict dress codes for shows and bizarre merch, think $100+ fidget spinner), it seemed like for the first time Arcade Fire perhaps could do wrong. Having said that, hearing the unexpected from the unorthodox should now be second nature to fans of the band, and perhaps anyone insulted by either a change in sound or a demand for style at their gigs should have a word with themselves…
But people are allowed their opinions, wrong as they may be, and tonight Arcade Fire seemed to do everything in their power to bring the pessimistic back on board. And it worked. Playing in the round, arriving through the crowd, and with an almost even split from their 5 albums, this was a gig for every AF fan – including that one person who saw them play ULU way back when, with the moment marked by frontman Win Butler this evening, and the spectator pointing himself out. (In hindsight, he might have been a liar.)
After the band entered the boxing ring styled-stage, Everything Now (the song) began the match, and from that indie piano-pop banger, optimism and celebration was the theme, regardless of the song subject matter in a weird way. In fact, only Neon Bible and My Body Is A Cage (at the point of the evening when the tracks are changed nightly) allowed for a break from the 1-2 combo of banger after banger. From the carnival of Here Comes The Night Time to festival anthem No Cars Go (those “HEY”s were written to be sung by voices in their thousands), the mass of musicians in the ring created harmonious havoc, with Win Butler banging the drum so hard he knocked himself over, and Régine Chassagne flexing between roles, dressed like a mirrorball personified. And if all of that wasn’t enough, heavyweight British rockstar – and someone you definitely wouldn’t want to fight – Chrissie Hynde joined for a cover of The Pretenders‘ Don’t Get Me Wrong.
The real treat came with 6-track set closer: all anthems, all danceable, with men in their later years – arms aloft – alongside a younger audience who were barely born when Funeral was released. The disco-tinged, Régine starring Sprawl II (Mountain Beyond Mountains), the forever Bowie memorial Reflektor, the number that perhaps most highlights what happens when these individuals unite, Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) – each and every one stomach-butterflies inducing. With Chrissie rejoining for an encore of Wake Up, alongside opening act Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Win: “We should be supporting these guys, they’ve been gong since the 70s!”) and apparently The National‘s Bryce Dessner (unannounced, I’m still not sure if that’s a lie also)… Well, if this is what Everything Now Corp do, may they be with Arcade Fire forevermore.
Photos: Ruth Medjber