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Arcade Fire – SECC, Glasgow

Nobody likes the SECC. It’s infamous as Glasgow’s worst venue, and while that label is a touch unfair, it’s easy to see why the big red shed earned it; it’s soulless, corporate, expensive and cavernous. Indeed, it’s the polar opposite of the earthy, wild artisans of alt.rock who take to the stage tonight. Yes, Arcade Fire are here on the last night of their tour and ready to try to overcome the shortcomings of the setting.

In many ways, the Montreal band are the credible indie kid’s Kings of Leon. Undoubtedly massive, undoubtedly mainstream, they’ve done it without the pandering and naked ambition of the Followhill gang. 

They start, aptly, with ‘Ready to Start’ and it’s easy to see why they are such a beloved live act – flailing around like wild gypsys, powering through early favourites like ‘Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)’. The first half of the show focuses on the meat of Neon Bible and The Suburbs, with ‘No Cars Go’ and ‘Sprawl 2’ being highlights, even if the latter sounds remarkably like ‘Japanese Boy’ by Aneka.

What is apparent, however, is that no matter how solid the afore-mentioned brace of albums are, it’s really still Funeral which has earned them their alternative Gods status. And no wonder – ‘Neighbourhood 1 & Neighbourhood 3’ have the audience in absolute tumult. And if they haven’t quite revolutionised music the way they threatened to with that debut – still a legitimate contender for greatest opening statement ever – then they haven’t gone backwards á la the Strokes.

If there is a criticism, it’s that the set suffers from a slight mid-set lag, but it’s minimal and it allows the crowd to pee, which is handy for a last section which can only fairly be described as ‘killer’. ‘We Used To Wait’ is just stunning, and ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ adds to the frenzy.

Frontman Win Butler, who bizarrely sports a haircut which one suspects Hitler might have had he stuck to art rather than politics, announces that Glasgow is the band’s favourite place to play, as you do. He then tells a story of how in the band’s early days his father told him he liked ‘the Scottish war song’, which is a better description of ‘Wake Up’ than any hack could manage. It’s impossible to overestimate the emotional punch of several thousand people joyously singing as if no-one is watching, and it is one of those astonishingly tender gig events which can be accurately described as ‘a moment’.

Arcade Fire deserve to be where they are. They may well be the world’s premier live act right now, and when you can prove night after night in venues such as this, you deserve the mantle. No-one left this gig short-changed.


One Response

  1. It was an astonishing show, I wish I was going again tonight!

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