Canadian Beats Passport – Show Review – Arcade Fire

When:  September 6th, 2017
Venue: Centre Bell
Where: Montreal, Quebec

An announcer’s voice booms over the PA. “Good evening everyone,” it says. “Welcome to the Bay-all Centre”. The announcer (jokingly) thanks their “sponsor, the Everything Now Corporation”, going on to present the “heavyweight champion of the world”. A loud cheer rises up from the crowd and a light is shone on the audience. Arcade Fire is wading their way through the thrilled crowd towards the boxing-ring stage. They flash across screens looking nothing short of champions.

Taking to Centre Bell’s boxing-ring stage on Wednesday (September 6th), Arcade Fire played here for the first time since 2005 when they played the stadium with U2. Two giants disco balls, on opposite sides of the complex, casting a random miscellany of illuminated shapes of various hues on to the blithe, dancing audience.

The band jumps right in with the first song and title track from their latest album, Everything Now. The song is met with enthusiasm as the audience begins to bounce, matching every “naa naa naa” and lyric perfectly. With synchronized clapping, the band leads the audience into another new track, “Signs Of Life”. They bring back some nostalgia and wistful singing with “Rebellion (Lies)”. No doubt, the song is met with a loud cheer as the audience shouts every word back at the band. Adding fuel to fire, Will Butler hops off the stage and takes his drum into the adrenalized crowd.

A small drumming frenzy transitions into “Here Comes The Night” and has the audience buoying about and matching the beat. Switching up the lyrics, Win Butler sings “They say, Montreal’s a place….” making the audience squeal. After this, Butler takes a moment to thank Canada’s immigration laws stating, “Regine’s family couldn’t have come here. I couldn’t have come here”. Accordingly, the band dives into “Haiti” with Regine Chassagne taking over vocals. If anyone thought that the dance party from the previous song was huge, they had another thing coming. Chassagne sashays about as the rest of the band frolics with some Haitian dancers on the stage.

After this they play the ever-so-energetic “No Cars Go”, the transfixing “Electric Blue” and debut “Put Your Money On Me”. For “Neon Bible”, Win Butler has the audience raise up its phone torches. “It’s always darkest just before the dawn,” he says. The audience obliges and the entire complex is transformed. Lights bob up and down, and all eyes are on Arcade Fire. As the song ends, a camera pans towards Butler’s lonely hat hanging from a mic stand, illuminated by a bouquet of lights.

“You guys are overwhelming nice”, Butler says with a smile in response to the crowds over enthusiastic cheers. He goes on to talk about the situation in Houston, his home and dedicates a touching rendition of “The Suburbs” right after playing fan-favourite “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels), which is followed by a passionate sing-along.

The band delivers one energetic banger after another and brings the house down for the last track “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) – which is appropriately named. As the rockers leave the stage, a few audience members put on their torches again. No one is budging.

With bated breath, the audience remains. Their steadfastness is awarded as Arcade Fire takes the stage once more to end the night with a triple encore. Screens display lyrics for “We Don’t Deserve Love” as Win enters the crowd and serenades them without barriers. Another, quieter singalong for “Everything Now” takes place and the night comes to an end with “Wake Up”.

“Merci! Merci beaucoup!” Butler cries. He profusely thanks the audience before the band leaves the stage once more. The disco balls continue to cast patchworks of colour upon the audience begins to filter out.  A content singalong of “oohs” echoes throughout the hall resonating deeply, for different reasons, in the satisfied heart of each individual.

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