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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 20, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 42
Arcade Fire burns bright at Key Arena
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Arcade Fire burns bright at Key Arena

by Jessica Price - SGN A&E Writer

ARCADE FIRE
THE INFINITE CONTENT TOUR
KEY ARENA
October 15


Never can it be said that Arcade Fire doesn't know how to make an entrance. They've come a long way since the runaway success of their debut album Funeral. Some may recall a Paramount show in September 2005 memorable for its loosely orchestrated chaos: multiple smartly dressed musicians banging multiple instruments, moving through the crowd, perching on monitors, randomly placed thrift store lamps dotting the stage. Twelve years ago Arcade Fire's creativity and presentation seemed at a peak, the sold out show a well-deserved but unusually meteoric rise for a new band. Little did anyone suspect how far they would go or that they'd be playing arenas before you could say 'Grammy Award.'

For Sunday evening's Key Arena appearance, Arcade Fire entered from the wings like the heavyweight, 24-and-counting award-winners they are. The in-the-round stage was set up as a boxing ring with wraparound video screens facing all sides so that every seat truly was a good one. Fake late night Everything Now advertisements played on a loop pre-show. A sports-like announcer introduced the band 'Weighing in at a collective 2100 pounds' and off they trotted through the audience, climbing through the ropes into the ring to open with 'Everything Now.'

The Infinite Content tour and current release Everything Now thematically reflect on living in a fractured, disenfranchised, consumption-obsessed world. Ironically, Arcade Fire can't seem to make any kind of music other than the cathartic, anthemic variety, even in times of despair and uncertainty, and especially when playing live. Subtle disco influences paired with driving percussion and the plaintive, expressive vocals of Win Butler conveyed an urgency and hope to the new songs: the mood was one of cutting loose, having fun despite what ugliness may be going on in the outside world. Charging through over two hours of some of their best tracks across all albums, fans were treated to a heavy dose of Funeral-era songs such as 'Rebellion (Lies),' 'Neighborhood #1,' 'Haiti,' 'Neighborhood #3' as well as 'Here Comes the Night Time,' 'No Cars Go,' 'Neon Bible' and 'The Suburbs' from their second and third releases.

Arcade Fire's more recent electronic leanings came through on stellar tracks from Reflektor, including the title track. David Bowie shared vocals on the original, and his image flashed in tribute on the wraparound screens during the song's crescendo. (Bowie was an early champion of Arcade Fire and joked with the band before recording 'Reflektor' that if they didn't hurry and release it, he would steal it.) Bowie's mentorship is palpable in the band's progression; they began in 2001 when several members were barely in their 20s, but by virtue of their capacity to push their own limits and musical boundaries their last two records are possibly their most accomplished since Funeral. For 'Electric Blue' a blue-pleather jumpsuited Regine Chassagne embraced her inner new wave goddess, striking plenty of swoon-worthy poses for her diva-worshipping fans.

The set list was stacked in favor of a night of epic, chanting singalongs and big fun, and Arcade Fire's energy barely reached less than a full-on fever pitch for 2+ hours. It's commendable that all nine touring members could maintain the pace and enthusiasm for so long, but feeding off each other's energy and passion has always been the band's strong suit. Perhaps a night of unbridled release was just what band and audience needed. Closing with 'Wake Up,' the song went off the rails into a beautiful collapse as the lights went on, as if the last musicians to finally leave the stage weren't even ready to stop.

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Sandra Valls brings her blend of comedy to Theatre Off Jackson Oct. 27
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Chan and Brosnan give The Foreigner a pugnacious kick
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