There are many people out there that claim a band's glory days were when they could be seen at small clubs, opening up for shit bands, or when they used to be seen working as a cashier at a local diner. We all have a story that involves seeing a band that now plays in big theatres when they were playing in front of 20 people and could barely play their instruments. Most people consider these times as the band's best performance and now that they're playing in front of audiences that are 100 times as big, they've lost it all. Well, a few years ago I saw Arcade Fire play a show at the (incredibly small) Larimer Lounge in Denver and have tried to remember those glory days every time I have seen them after that. But this band was not made to play small bars. The Arcade Fire is a full-fledged rock band whose every song becomes more and more of an anthem every time you hear it. The Arcade Fire was meant to play large venues with all of the glitz and glamour that accompanies it. Their sound is huge. So they play huge venues. It works.
Arcade Fire played The United Palace in New York City, a venue I had never been to until last night. The stage was decorated with light poles and small circular screens that transmitted the cover of their new album, Neon Bible in between the shots of them playing. The band played each song perfectly with enough energy that it seemed as though (like always) their performances are more cathartic for themselves than an act of entertainment.
When a huge audience of people is singing all the lyrics to the same song, I don't care if you're in an Arcade Fire show or a Raffi show; it's a special thing. Songs like "Haiti" (that always seems to take on a gumbo Graceland vibe live), the Bruce Springsteen wanna-be "Antichrist Television Blues," "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)," and of course "Rebellion (Lies)," were all put-your-fist-in-the-air-and-forget-about-your-boring-job moments that even the biggest of cynics like myself appreciated. It doesn't matter who you are, what kind of music you like, or if you're the teenager actor sitting next to me that would not shut up (I won't name names), "Rebellion (Lies)" will ALWAYS do something to you when you hear it live. I'm not sure what it is, but it's as though you're listening to "The Weight" or "Sweet Home Alabama." It's going to be a classic if it's not already, and while in a few years you might get sick of it, you will never be able to deny it.
Maybe I will never really accept the fact that Arcade Fire is a mammoth of indie rock, but God I'm happy they are.
"No Cars Go"
"Neighborhood #2 (Laika)"
"Black Wave/Bad Vibrations"
"The Well & the Lighthouse"
"Ocean of Noise"
"Keep the Car Running"
"(Antichrist Television Blues)"
"Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"
"Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)"