There are very few bands that can put on a flawless performance like Montreal rockers Arcade Fire. Tonight, Manchester witnessed the band at their best. Jack Cinnamond went to Castlefield Bowl to catch them.
It’s very well known to those close to me that Arcade Fire are indeed my favourite band. I can’t explain why to be fair, I would say (in a cheesy fashion) it’s maybe everything about them.
After catching them at a rare little show at the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe last month, it was hard to see how they would top that dreamy intimate show, the band definitely showcased tonight that they’re in their thought-to-be established peak.
Opening with their very welcomed recent hit “Everything Now“, the band quickly brings the heat and creates an image for the rest of the show, well at least you’d think.
The band quickly followed into “Rebellion (Lies)“, one of the hits of their early years. The band were showered with chants of “Lies” throughout, the fiery Manchester crowd were here for this moment.
The band then moved on, bringing out their carnival-esque “Here Comes The Night Time” for one massive dance. The band were having fun, quite noticablly with often live-wire Will Butler climbing into the band’s festival stage set-up’s Lorde-like transparent screen box for a dance.
The band brought-out another Everything Now single with “No Signs of Life“, while the weakest of their singles recently, the song now plays a vital part of their set, a breather of new material is very warm to old fans who came tonight.
Back-to-back, the band decide to show off tracks from their 2008 acclaimed album Neon Bible with “No Cars Go” and rarely played “Intervention” before playing two back-to-back songs from The Suburbs with title track “The Suburbs” along with the pummelling “Ready To Start“.
They’re unstoppable, a unique force in modern rock and by far one of the best live bands to be touring right now.
The band takes a step back to their start now with the the appearance of “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)“. It’s a warm and fuzzy flashback to their early days as goth kids creating important music, before they became one of the biggest bands today.
Regine takes over for the anthem “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” which brings a huge sing-a-long, possibly one of the band’s most beloved songs.
It was time for Win Butler and co. to bring out their glossy dark disco masterpiece “Reflektor” along with it’s sister track “Afterlife” which included a wonderful snippet of New Order‘s “Temptation” at the end, showing their own love for Manchester.
The powerful vibrant synth-driven “Creature Comfort” finally appears as the penultimate song in the band’s main set, it’s a strong piece of Arcade Fire‘s catalogue, a bright spark of new work from the band that is over with it’s audience. To end, the band decides on “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)” which brilliantly bookends the main set.
After a few moments, they return to the stage armed with a unplanned performance of Reflektor dance track “We Exist“, which Win stops and re-introduces twice saying “I’ve been waiting to play this one!”.
“Wake Up” follows, in it’s usual sing-a-long fashion. Oddly, the song usually either starts or ends the show, tonight it ends their first encore.
The show was in the bag, an amazing performance that couldn’t get better, only it did with the band’s second encore of “Neon Bible“, with Win begging fans to hold their phones up into the warm Manchester sky to create a moment.
Before they left, they had one more piece of business to attend to, showing how much they adore the strength of Manchester following the horrible attacks in May by performing a rendition of Joy Division‘s hauntingly beautiful “Love Will Tear Us Apart“.
They are a band who can’t do wrong, with both flawless studio material and live performances, it’s hard to argue that Arcade Fire aren’t the best band in the world. I’m sure Manchester will argue with you right now.
Words and photography by Jack Cinnamond.