Arcade Fire live @ the 3Arena, Dublin 6 April 2018

Seeing Arcade Fire had for a long time been high upon my to-do list.

However, ‘Everything Now’, Last year’s offering from the Canadian, indie-rock outfit had dramatically dampened my desire. It appeared that their efforts around the marketing campaign far outweighed those put into the music; it was clear they were doing so to make a statement on consumerism, but in my opinion, it resulted in the record being the weakest of their five to date. The fact that only the title track, which was, by far the album’s highlight, received any significant airplay would support this.

On to the night itself: The Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s opening set was uneventful for the most part and the crowd’s disinterest didn’t do them any favours. The New Orleans based, 6-piece stuck mostly to instrumentals but did finish up with a song called ‘Mad’ which had lyrics and was probably the high point of their set.

After a boxing style introduction, Arcade Fire made their way through the crowd towards the stage, to the sound of Walter Murphy’s ‘A Fifth Of Beethoven’. The 360° stage had been fashioned into a boxing ring and on the screens above, fake infomercials were broadcast to reiterate ‘Everything Now’s’ theme.  Unexpectedly, it was the title track that opened the show, a song that you would expect they would have kept for later in proceedings. A bold enough move, but one that paid off, as instantly the crowd were enthralled. Following up with ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ was no bad idea either and whipped the crowd further into a frenzy.

The ropes came down after the 4th song of the set and it started to look a bit more like a traditional stage, the 360° aspect was something I hadn’t witnessed before, but I would imagine it is something we will be seeing a lot more of in the future. Separate mic stands on each side of the stage meant no section of the crowd was neglected and it’s positioning meant that nobody was too far from the stage either.

The lighting set up was also very impressive, in particular, on ‘My Body Is A Cage’ where the beams enclosed the stage spectacularly to provide a prison cell effect.

The music was just as impressive as the set-up, particularly on the immediate run of songs directly after ‘My Body Is A Cage’ which included; ‘Neighbourhood #1’, ‘The Suburbs’, ‘Ready To Start’, ‘Sprawl II’ and ‘Reflektor’. It was on these, faster, paced, Indie rock numbers where Arcade Fire were at their best. 

In total, only five songs from the new record made on to the set list, and of those, ‘Electric Blue’ was the one that stood out. ‘We don’t deserve Love’ was ok, but will be remembered more for its ending, as a tribute was paid to Dolores O’Riordan. A day after the 24th anniversary of his death, Kurt Cobain was also honoured on the night, as ‘Rococo’ morphed gently into ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

As expected, the highlight and curtain closer came in the form of the anthemic, ‘Wake Up’ where the band were joined for the finale by, The Preservation Hall Jazz band before they led the way from the stage and out through the crowd in typical New Orleans, marching band fashion.

 Anthony Kelly