Arcade Fire, Devendra Banhart
Laura Prior 01/12/2010
Seeing Arcade Fire live is a daunting prospect. Whether you're witnessing them in a church, or headlining a festival, it's how moving and seismic you expect it to be where the real hesitation lies. Unfortunately, this is much more potent when them in London's O2 Arena, aka The Millennium Dome, which is really what it still should be called - That or the Bewitched Greenwich scrotumal warehouse - considering how feeble it remains.
But that's what happens when bands get huge. I scoff when bands like Coldplay and Biffy play Wembley, but somehow it always seems like more of a slight when more intimate propositions like Radiohead and Arcade Fire start selling out entire planets for a jolly. Somewhere where Michael McIntyre was probably born, got married, helped deliver all his children, lost his parents, had the greatest nights of his professional and personal life, and will no doubt be buried, does not scream rock and roll and true devotion.
And it's true, the experience does feel like waiting in a mainline railway station to use the toilet for 30p, while loads of spams loiter around the turnstiles trying to pay with £20 notes. There are seats in the sky, about 49 miles from the actual stage, and sad looking Indians with boxes of Becks Vier pumps on their backs trying to sell you a mobile Becks Vier for £4.50. This is the future. Welcome to the year 2000.
After one last bash from the forces of mediocrity in the form of retarded fake hippy Devendra Banhart, by the time Win Butler and the rest of the Montreal mad dogs turn up and sing lines like "Well, I guess I'll just begin again...", on "Ready to Start", before launching into "Neighbourhood #2 - Laika", it sounds like it's the most natural thing in the world, because it is. Ready to Start? They're taking names!
Win's busy hairstyle of mohawk-skinhead-bangs is such that every angle he stood at seemed to reflect an entirely new person, much like the band themselves. They come across as ubiquitous in the best possible way, yet utterly beguiling in every song. During "Haiti", RĂ©gine Chassagne's hereditary homeland, mashed up by floods and cholera, she dons a pair of rainbow tasselled ropes and whirls them high in her yellow, sequinned leotard thing like the coolest circus dancer ever!
They are all so beautiful though. Richard Parry and Will Butler hit the same drum during "No Cars Go" like grown adults playing, and if you haven't yet experienced the magnificence of a live "Month of May", I suggest you go on You Tube and treat yourself to a second-hand experience of inferior sound and quality! Arcade Fire don't "play" songs you fools, they're doing the opposite of playing, they're fucking hurdy gurdying, performing, magnificent SPECTRE BASTARDS!
The band's signature heavenly choir-epic of all heavenly indie choir-epics "Wake Up", concludes, as per the legend, but in the O2, it sort of feels like We're All Just Singing Along to Arcade Fire finishing the Gig With Wake Up. The more it expands, the less intense it can feel, putting something beautiful and alive in the middle of somewhere so tacky and dead-eyed only works due to the band itself. Put them in an aircraft hangar or a public toilet; they'll make it work.
As with all the great Arcade Fire songs, some things are just not coming back. Tacky or pure, too big or just more collective, the very ways in which they own tonight at the O2 Arena may be entirely the reason a band like Arcade Fire, almost definitely the best band in the world, exist as such in 2010. Vive la scrotumnal!