Thursday, October 06, 2005

A Not Unbiased Contemplation Of AF

They were great, it was a spectacle, this is not an unbiased review. I started listening to Arcade Fire via the net way back when. Then, one day, they put out Funeral. I went down to Megatunes and bought that cd the same day. I was bean-headedly fortunate that the cd was released in September. Arcade Fire is for autumn, after all, and darkening nights. I couldn't believe my luck, hearing the band was finally coming to Edmonton. Tickets were bought the morning they went on sale. I love Arcade Fire. This is not an unbiased review.

Wanting to beat the line, I arrived two hours ahead of the people I was supposed to meet, dressed in my best poor-man's-Prada. Most of the hipsters were already there, corduroy blazers sported like uniforms. The blazers fought viciously with the diamond-patterned sweaters, until the dark-haired girls draped in scarves started crying. Well, the guys all looked a little embarrassed after that, and everyone settled down. Then Crystal phoned and said her car had broken down, because God hated her, and so did I, when I answered, "So where are we meeting?" instead of the better boyfriend-like, "Are you okay?". I am a lout. And J didn't arrive until nearly eight o'clock (doors opened at seven), but there were compensations. After all, he was wearing an RCMP parade jacket and looked like a marching band leader in a Norman Rockwell painting. I am not lying. And A couldn't make it, but I met another A and subbed him in for the first one. That worked out okay.

Belle Orchestre was up first. "What's their name?" said the native guy behind the English guy behind me. "I'm James," the English guy said. "No, buddy, the band, the band. I don't care what you're called." The English guy stayed polite and said he didn't know, so I spoke up, and then had to tell the native that Wolf Parade was coming on afterward, and Arcade Fire wasn't till last. What did he expect? The crowd was squeezed fresh off the tree, tight like you wouldn't believe. The native would just have to wait it out like the rest of us if he wanted a half-decent spot from which to see Arcade. Anyways, Belle Orchestre (I refuse to acronymize that name) was strong and kept the crowd silent, which is pretty hard to do when your songs have no words and basically sound like a parade square version of classical, which is not a knock on the Beautiful Orchestra's playing, by the way, because it WAS good. Also, Sarah Neufeld, the violinist, must have arms of brass. The word here is solid. The band was like a thick loaf of music, but, like that loaf, basically plain. Where's the butter, son? Wolf Parade was something else. Brutal feedback on a couple of the songs, and a quick rip through "Dear Sons And Daughters Of Hungry Ghosts" started turning smiles into frowns, but then Spencer Krug got angry, just about ripped his guitar in half and abandoned even that to practically scream the end chorus of "This Heart's On Fire", basically cutting off the audience's collective skull. I loved it. Maybe you were there. And I bet you loved it, too.

Arcade Fire, right? Is there anything left to say? Just read somewhere that Arcade is going to be opening for the next U2 tour. Shutup, Bono, they'll steal the show from you and you can scream bloody Sunday all you want. Arcade Fire was a spectacle, plain and simple. Always on the edge of control, music like chaos but a secret and golden order behind the chords; the drummmer, the percussionist barely keeping their hands inside the car, Richard Perry going simply nuts and through it all that Cajun Gothic couple, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, singing strongly and with force. The whole audience sang along to "Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)". Later, we all shouted "Lies! Lies!". Oh, it was a good show. It was a bad venue, but it was a good show, a great show, and I'll remember it for a long time, for the way the band paraded through the crowd, for the way they talked to their fans, for the way ordinary people on and off the stage became beautiful, attractive, extraordinary. A lot of other things happened that night, little things, not unimportant. But Arcade Fire sang "Crown Of Love" for the encore. I'll always remember that.

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