Features

Saturday Deluxe / 8 July 2017

Arcade Fire are a knockout in East London

It’s been a very busy week here at SDE and Arcade Fire was a real highlight. I felt very, very lucky to get tickets to one of their intimate shows at the York Hall in Benthal Green, East London.

It’s a very interesting choice of venue – it’s basically a local authority leisure centre and a well known boxing venue. It’s TINY (feels much smaller than the stated 1,200 capacity) and totally authentic, not some hipster/millennial version of a boxing club, but an ACTUAL east end boxing club. You can see in the photo above (click to enlarge) that the band really made the most of it with the stage in the middle and as the lights went down an MC came on to introduce the band in true boxing style, with some pithiness thrown in (“tonight we bring you a true heavyweight event, not available on pay-per-view, HBO or Sky Box Office…”).

It was roasting inside the venue, but the band didn’t help matters – they were hot, hot, hot! I was a bit of a Arcade Fire late starter, I have to admit, getting into them properly with The Suburbs and going back to explore the amazing two previous two albums (still not sure about Reflektor).

Although the music was amazing (you can view the setlist here) it’s the attitude of the band towards their fans and the industry in generally that really impresses. They just seem to ‘get it’ and are having a lot of fun with the ‘Everything Now’ concept of the not-yet-released new album. Their alter-ego twitter feed @EverythingNowCo, with its mock-corporate values, is hilarious, questioning whether the band really need to give 100% of proceeds of some T-shirt sales to the Partners in Health charity (“How ’bout 50/50?”) or praising fan-created artwork with the line “Beautiful! Also totally unauthorized, please contact our licensing office in Saipan to arrange payment.”

Back to the gig though… we were upstairs (getting to old for the mosh-pit) next too a couple who (for some reason) had brought their two quite young children (probably between eight and 12 years old). Surely a total waste of money, since the kids looked bored throughout the entire concert, despite being bought ‘Everything Now’ caps!  It turned out the ‘dad’ may have been someone famous, since a few people around us were getting their photo taken with him! Apparently, Boy George and Jude Law were among the attendees, but, despite normally being quite a good ‘spotter’, I didn’t see anyone like that.

The live performance was amazing. Perhaps due to the central location of the stage and to ensure everyone got a good view (or maybe they always do it) the band were running around like maniacs, standing up and balancing precariously on stools, or keyboards or whatever platform came to hand. A health-and-safety officer’s nightmare. I do actually have really good video of the entire first song, Everything Now, but I’m too scared to upload to YouTube in case the Everything Now Corporation come down hard on me!

The album, Everything Now, is scheduled for release on 28 July 2017.

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11 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 8 July 2017

  1. Hassan says:

    I don’t think their Scunthorpe Baths Hall show last month will be topped this year. Outstanding!

  2. Eamonn says:

    You lucky duck! Looking forward to the album if there’s more in the vein of Creature Comfort which has the best buzz-synth propulsion since New Order.
    The heavy hitting producers (members of LCD Soundsystem, Daft Punk and Pulp) for the record make it even more intriguing.

  3. don cooper says:

    An opening bout of Boy George vs Jude Law would have well-entertained moi!
    BG has a vicious right.
    He can Box,too…
    ;-)

  4. Stevie B says:

    I’m with you as regards Reflektor. Seen them live twice, but both times from the back of very large halls, but would love to watch them in a small venue. Fell in love with them back in 2005 following their appearance on Later, and immediately thought that I must check if they were playing here in Birmingham, only to find they’d done so earlier that evening!!!

  5. truthsayer says:

    I was into Arcade Fire from the first EP until `The Suburbs`. I feel they became a bit too commercial. Glad you enjoyed the show Paul they are one of the finest live bands around. You should have been at their early shows, they were amazing.

  6. Mad Earwig says:

    I recall some years ago reading separate interviews with both Pat Metheny and Laurie Anderson who I respect a lot, listed Arcade Fire as music they were listening to. So when I saw the album ‘funeral’ in the reduced section of a CD store I was impressed with it enough to then buy ‘neon bible’ and ‘the suburbs’ but like you I’m not really getting ‘reflektor’.
    I love the discovery of interesting but unusual music but as a band, they don’t have a lot of hooks or melodies except classics like ‘black mirror’ which I will have looping in my head.
    Roll on the new one.

  7. TheScoundrel says:

    Caught on early with Funeral which resonated during a rather turbulent time in my life, followed by Neon Bible which I half-adored, half-liked and then missed out initially on The suburbs due to extenuating circumstances but soon realised how many amazing songs are on there too (and was chuffed at their success). Re Reflektor, I again kind of half-loved, half-liked it. Was blown away by the title track with its Bowie embellishments and thought the likes of It’s Never Over etc pushed the boundaries. And to me, that’s what it was – a transitional record and I love it when bands experiment and push themselves. Some of their stuff though, it’s almost as if it’s just a tad too intensely emotional and thus difficult to enjoy. Not in a bad way, but in the same way that a great film might blow you away but you wouldn’t necessarily want to watch it that often. I don’t know, I find that I mostly try to cheer myself when I listen to music in our current climate. Doubt I’m the only one. This is part of why it hurt so much to lose the likes of Bowie and Prince (long live their names and example) last year.

  8. Gisabun says:

    I’m from Arcade Fire “country”.
    While I am a big fan, I was not impressed with their last album.
    Neither was I impressed with the “documentary” part of the video release that came way later after the album.
    I haven’t listened to anything from the new album [whatever that has been released] but I’m hoping it isn’t like the last album.

  9. Dave H says:

    Paul,
    Following up on your weekend review, did you go to see Blondie at Kew Gardens a few years back? Their summer concerts are fantastic for fans, you’re encouraged to bring your own drinks and food. If you don’t fancy bringing your own, you can order a hamper and sit on the grass to eat it while watching the concert.
    If you don’t fancy relaxing in the sun, you can buy a ticket to get close up to the stage in the standing area. In recent years I’ve seen Paul Weller, Blondie and Simple Minds perform at Kew and fortunately it’s never rained when I’ve been there.

  10. Fish says:

    Yes, they always do that! They run around, change instruments throughout a lot of the songs, and just generally have a lot of energy. In a small venue, or my hometown Wells Fargo Center, there is never a dull moment. Especially Will, Win’s brother, during Rebellion (Lies), will climb anything around him with his drum pounding away. They have so much enthusiasm for their music, and their connection with their audience. They are one of my top 3 favorites, and I can’t wait to see them in Philly again in September! I actually got lucky at Panorama to be standing right next to all the members as they walked through the crowd! Dream come true! So glad I discovered them when I did

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