Arcade Fire - Manchester Academy 1 - 04.5.05

With news of their existence and debut album; ‘Funeral’ zooming around the internet faster than a link to a celebrity porn site, the Montreal sextet who combine to make Arcade Fire had a reputation for soaring orchestral and choral keyboard fuelled indie that preceded them. This fact made for an intriguing atmosphere, as it was like waiting in Goodison Park a few years hence for a glimpse of young Wayne Rooney; you knew you’d be witnessing promise, but that the real sparks and fulfilment of potential would be produced later down the line.

Leader of the pack; Win Butler ably assisted by a scintillating string section and robust bass lines, as well as ethereal backing vocals seemed oblivious to the weight of expectation that has been dropped upon them from a great height. Tonight, they performed a close knit and compelling set mixing lushness with power and grit that was epitomised in latest single ‘Neighborhood #2 (Laika) ’. A thoughtful and contemplative moment descended upon an enthralled 1,500 plus crowd, when the enchanting Regine Chassagne produced a commanding vocal performance in ‘Haiti’ taken from their ‘Funeral’ album. A recurring feature of Arcade Fire by way of marching instrumentals and commanding falsetto vocals, produced by Butler giving off a The Bravery, Talking Heads and hint of Phil Oakley feel  reached a highpoint towards the end in ‘Rebellion Lies'.
Butler’s enigmatic personality came out via exuberant stage dives and crowd encouraging handclapping that was juxtaposed with sobering comments about drunks being good for "shouting and fucking up", as well as discouraging crowd chit chat during one of their quieter musical interludes. Although their rise has been swift and meteoric; this simmering sextet will not properly come to the boil for a few years yet and their effect will be scorching when they do, as they are already a mesmerizing live act.

David Adair

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