We went to the exclusive arcade fire show in St John’s Smith’s Square last night, but sadly it was a little disappointing. We saw them in the ULU on the cusp of fame, and it was quite literally the best gig we have ever seen, so I admit our expectations were high.
They began on previous form, suddenly emerging in the middle of the audience with a mandolin, which made it seem anything could happen and from any direction. They’d formed a kind of French Resistance meets disenchanted teenagers kind of crowd. It was amplification that brought it down. They blasted the place despite the fact it is engineered for a certain sound. You can’t work an amplifier like a church with a Brixton Academy sound-desk frame of mind. This seemed to frustrate the band, who did not communicate so well with each other, and left too quickly and a little tired. The ‘kids’ thing was a little forced. Only when they played numbers like Tunnels or Rebellion did we see a hint of the former energy and coherence. I hope they weren’t just being nostalgic and that there is better to come.
High point: Tunnels with trumpets vs. opening mandolin procession. You decide.
Missed opportunity: New album features enormous organ sound; St. John’s features one of the best organs in UK (and organists aren’t thin on the ground), yet they didn’t use it.
Most contrived moment: Win rips strings off guitar, disgusted with the current US govt. He places it delicately on the ground and a roadie tenderly sneaks on all fours over to get it and proceeds to restring it in front of the crowd for a subsequent song. Strings in shirt pocket at the ready.