You want to see a great show? Scratch that – a “top ten of all time” show? Go see Arcade Fire.
Surprises were everywhere at Friday night’s impressive concert at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. The show began on a whimsical note with a group of musicians in oversized paper mache´ heads playing theme music from the Jurassic Park soundtrack. As they began the intro to “Rebellion (Lies),” the real Arcade Fire walked onstage to a resounding roar from the audience – most of whom were dressed in costumes or formal attire, abiding by the theme of the tour.
The stage was filled with mirrors and over a dozen musicians playing instruments ranging from bongos to saxophones to a violin and a xylophone. As the band played through their set, little surprises were everywhere: a large paper mache´-mirrored figure danced under a spotlight in the audience, gymnastic ribbons and large mirrored blocks were playfully used as props by band co-founder Regine Chassagne, and live background video was created with footage of Chassagne singing on a small stage in the audience while dancers in skeleton costumes wove around her during “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus).”
As the band finished their set list of 18 songs, the best surprises were about to be unveiled. Returning to the stage first, the paper mache´-headed musicians began the encore with a teaser of Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” and then segued into “Picture My Face” by Ontario band Teenage Head.
In keeping with the tradition of the tour, Arcade Fire chose their first song of the encore to be one that acted as a tribute to the city they were playing in. Lead singer, Win Butler, dedicated “Who Do You Love” in honour of the Canadian singer Ronnie Hawkins and his band The Hawks (later known as The Band) who had a hit with the Bo Diddley song.
As the encore continued with “Here Comes The Night Time” from their Reflektorrecord, an enormous explosion of streamers and confetti rained down onto the audience throughout the song. The visual spectacles continued when suddenly fireworks began bursting overhead as the band rocked out with “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).”
Just as the crowd suspected the end, Arcade Fire gave the audience one final magical moment. As “Wake Up” began, a surge of electric emotion came over the crowd. The peak of the magical night came when both the audience and the band sang the soaring chorus a cappella. Ending with a fury of dancing, the energy didn’t stop buzzing until long after the concert was over. As the crowd made their way to the exits, they danced, high-kicked and sang the “ahhhhs” from “Wake Up” over and over.
Arcade Fire came prepared to wow their audience and they delivered. Playing a beautifully curated set list containing songs from all four of their albums, they were masters of momentum. The songs from their previous albums – brighter and lighter- were perfectly placed between the grittier and heavier songs from Reflektor. For almost two hours, the audience had their voices and hands in the August air celebrating everything and anything. That experience is what music is all about and Arcade Fire nailed it.