Monday, May 07, 2007

The Arcade Fire at United Palace Theatre, 5/7/07

Tonight, I was lucky enough to catch the Arcade Fire perform their first of three back to back shows in New York.

The United Palace Theatre was an interesting venue, with almost every inch of the walls and ceiling covered in ornate moldings and sculptures. But later, I figured that it seemed to mesh well with the ten piece band and their menagerie of instruments. I was initially wary of attending at a seated venue, but I further realized that the band fit this place like a glove. I can’t think of another band that I would’ve been content to go see at a seated venue.

The stage lighting was amazing, yet simple, utilizing neon lighting to match their latest cover album art. It was a great way to set the tone of the concert.

As for the band, they played with intense enthusiasm and energy throughout the set. Their exaggerated instrument playing, feet stomping and dancing could be easily viewed as cheesy and contrived, but seeing the entire band into the music seemed to fuel the audience. Besides, who doesn’t like seeing someone wail on a xylophone? I’d prefer watching musicians play with pure joy than to see a band who act as if they're too cool to play their own songs.

I usually enjoy hearing a band interact with the audience, but oddly preferred it if the members hadn’t spoken through the show. It’s as if I thought they were interrupting the performance somehow or breaking the fourth wall (to use film terminology).

The band created so much energy that it was hard to find any downfalls in their performance. I love listening to their albums, but now they’ll pale in comparison to the live act. Each song sounded ten times more vibrant and intense than the recorded version.

Rebellion, Power Out and Windowstill were the most inspired performances. Neon Bible, the title track to their latest release, was one that I personally enjoyed immensely, mostly because that song has been going through my head for the past few weeks.

Ironically, Tunnels, probably their most well known song was the loosest one of the night. But perhaps they’re like most band who tire of their signature songs (i.e. Smells Like Teen Spirit or Creep). Not to say that it wasn’t well done, but the audience’s enthusiasm for the tune definitely carried the band through the rendition more so than any other time during the night.

At the end of the night, everyone filed out of the theatre obviously still buzzing from the show. I have to say it was probably one of the most amazing, energetic concerts I’ve been to. Probably on par with Thievery Corporation and Gomez, my other favorite live acts.

It’s strange to discover that the Arcade Fire aren’t as popular as I initially believed. Virtually none of my friends have heard of them, and the few that do didn’t really care for their albums. Not too surprising I guess since no one seems to share my taste in music.

I will definitely try to get my hands on a live recording or two of the Arcade Fire, but for now...

Rebellion - by far their best live song IMHO.

Neon Bible - showing that they can do the soft stuff just as well.

NOTE: I was a little bummed to find out that I’d miss an impromptu Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance tonight, but since I wouldn’t have been able to get in (as it was a chicks only concert), I’m not shedding too many tears.

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