The lights went down and Wembley was plunged into darkness as a mixture of Vangelis and Beethoven filled the compact arena until all went silent and the voice of a boxing commentator boomed through the PA system;‘
Annnnnnnnnnddddd in the red cornerrrrrr’
‘All the way from Montreal, Canada, Arrrrcaaadddeeeee Fireeeeeeeeeee’
The stadium-sized screens were suddenly filled with images of the group moving through thousands of standing fans akin to a prize boxer entering a title fight.
The spectacle was about to begin.
Climbing through the ropes which surrounded the stage / boxing ring, instruments were hoisted and ‘Everything Now’ introduced London to Arcade Fire for the third and final time in a week.
The stage was in fact styled as a boxing ring, complete with a rotating centerpiece on which two drum kits sat, allowing a pure 360 performance.
The following show was nothing short of spectacular as the stage, completely encircled by standing fans, exploded with life, dance moves and a stunning light show.
For a band to perform so many songs about death, desperation, creature comforts and attempted suicide, it can be surreal experience to watch live, as it is almost impossible not to dance and belt out choruses, but that is what makes Arcade Fire such a phenomenal group.
It’s serious stuff that they tackle; consumerism, the need for affirmation, depression, apathy as well as intensely personal issues;
She dreams about dying all the time
She told me she came so close
Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record”
“Saying God, make me famous
If you can’t just make it painless
Just make it painlessIt’s not painlessShe was a friend of mine, a friend of mine
And we’re not nameless, oh”
These lines come from ‘Creature Comfort’, a track on the ‘Everything Now’ album and if you hadn’t heard the song, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a sobering song but in fact, it is one of the catchiest Arcade Fire have released.
Wes Anderson shares the alchamistic quality in dealing with dark subject matter in his films which are joyful, endlessly fun, colourful and funny, but beneath it all, the theme of death is consistently referred to and explored through suicidal characters and others who lose their lives.
Art is created in response to pain, love, hate and every nuanced human emotion there is.
It’s a therapeutic method of approaching the hardest things to approach, but Arcade Fire, like Anderson, turn it into something else, something for people to actually enjoy while simultaneously connecting with the material emotionally.
“So can you understand
Why I want a daughter while I’m still young?
I want to hold her hand
And show her some beauty before this
damage is done”
Personally, this is what sets Arcade Fire apart.
Approaching personal conflicts as well as wider societal issues with songs that can get thousands bouncing.
As a spectacle, there are few who can put on a better show than Arcade Fire.
From start to finish, their performance on Friday was stupendous and their final song, ‘Wake Up’, lit up Wembely just as it has consistently capped off their performances for the past 15 years.
Featuring guest appearances from Florence and the Machine as well as Boy George, who performed ‘Chameleon’, the night took on a celebratory atmosphere for the final act and it would have been hard to find a single person who wasn’t smiling and laughing at the pure joy of it all.
Arcade Fire, they make the people happy.