Arcade Fire (Canada)

Arcade Fire, The Forum Theatre (Melbourne, 29th January 2008)

Arcade Fire, The Forum Theatre (Melbourne, 29th January 2008)

10 willing participants on stage. 1500 in the audience. It all adds up to one of the most amazing gigs we’re likely to see this year and beyond. The Canadian masters of organised mayhem put on a show that would blow everyone away.Although it was the Big Day Out that brought Arcade Fire to our shores, they’re clearly not a festival band and are far more suited to the faux-Roman surrounds of the beautiful Forum Theatre on Flinders Street. Queueing from around 6pm for a decent spot, we were a fair way around the Russell Street corner but still confident of getting a spot up nice and close.

Once the doors opened, we did, a couple back in the middle of the stage. Which was nice. With no support act tonight we didn’t have long to wait until the entire posse filed their way on stage, dodging errantly placed Xylophones, Hurdy-Gurdies, Baritone Saxophones, Mandolins and scattered Tambourines for the huge opener Wake Up from the 2005 album Funeral.

With the stage backed by a pipe organ, red curtains, and a lot of very very subtle lighting (which played havoc with picture taking…) the focus was very much on the mayhem up front. Richard starting out on a drum/tambourine kind of number dropped it halfway through the song and ran over to pick up the accordion. Common rock fare I would have thought. Lead singer Win Butler then found his way into the crowd to finish the song off.

The night would never look back.
A massive opening set of Wake Up, Keep The Car Running, Black Mirror and Laika just floored the audience, and there simply wasn’t a weak link in the entire set, something the very mixed demographic crowd fed off from start to finish.

The beautiful Neon Bible and Ocean of Noise gave way to the huge opener from Funeral – Tunnels, which just sounded mind-blowingly amazing with the magnitude of music behind it. Introducing my favourite song from Neon Bible, lead singer Win Butler reflected on something he’d said at the Big Day Out the day before. “Yesterday I said Australia had the worst television in the world, which I think some people misinterpreted. What I meant was, Australia has the worst fucking television in the whole fucking world”. Watching A Current Affair run with a ‘chilling re-enactment’ of the Wayne Carey domestic dispute the following night, I was convinced he was 100% correct.

That favourite song is Antichrist Television Blues, and it hit as hard as it ever has listening to it live. Amazing energy, anger, triumph. The full gamut. Feeding into Power Out and finally Rebellion, there was a block of songs that summed up the whole night. Rebellion in particular just grew extra legs in front of an audience who were hanging on every drum beat. Win climbed off the stage and stood in the middle of the sea of people belting out the lyrics. The song ended with the audience singing the string line over and over again as the band left the stage for a well earned break, and continuing until they came back their faces beaming with the realisation that this was not a festival crowd. 1500 people were here to see them and they bloody loved it. They joined in the mass singalong before resuming regular programming.

The huge church organ sound of Intervention got things going again after the break, before closing the night with the superb No Cars Go. This is the gig that in 10 years time people there will still be talking about. One of the hardest working, revolutionary bands on the planet at the moment are earning a break. Everything about this gig, the leadup, and the aftermath was pure perfection. And I even bought a T-shirt, not something I’ve done a lot of at gigs in recent times.

Simply can’t fault it.

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