Arcade Fire is one of the most talked about live acts of at least the last 5 years, and everyone I know that has seen them has had nothing but praise for their performances afterwards, so on discovering that they were playing at the Manchester Evening News Arena, I was determined to get myself a ticket.
Of course, being the world’s number 1 procrastinator, by the time I got round to actually buying a ticket, there were only top tier left. So, on the night of the gig, there I was, about a mile back from the stage, and about the same above sea-level. Below, hundreds (maybe thousands, I’m crap with numbers) of people were surging into the arena, a living mass of pure anticipation and excitement. Sadly they were out of spitting distance. Standing bastards.
Now, at this point I should point out that I don’t actually own a copy of ‘Neon Bible’, and though I’ve listened to the album a good few times, I am a little at a loss when it comes to naming the newer songs they played, but they opened with one of them anyway, and it became immediately obvious to me that, even at such a distance from the stage, that this would be a gig I would remember for all the right reasons. And one wrong reason, what with being so far back, and everything. Not that I’m bothered, obviously.
Seriously though, this was an absolutely amazing live performance, not only in the sense of the quality of the musicianship within the band (and the quality is very, very high), but also in the fact that Arcade Fire know exactly what songs their fans want, and they play them all. All the singles, all the catchiest and most danceable songs, featured in their setlist, getting the crowd more and more vamped up with every one they played, culminating with the brilliant ‘Wake Up’, which is probably my personal favourite.
If I had to name one negative point about the gig…well, one more negative thing, it would be that the videos projected up behind the band while they played were a little distracting, mainly because they were, well, a load of pretentious old shite, really, but I can forgive anyone a bit of pretension when they write such startlingly good songs, and then flawlessly perform them for my entertainment. I would say that for the people standing in the crowd below me, it was probably an absolutely fantastic experience, and even from my self-pitying perspective up in the top tier, there was no denying that Arcade Fire are a one of the greatest contemporary live acts.