WORDS AND IMAGES BY BILLY SEAGRAVE
“Arcade Fire Have Earned A Place In The Aristocracy Of Musical Heavy Weights”
Arcade Fire arrive at Manchester’s AO Arena, to showcase their, “We” tour. The band has been in the news this week because of sexual misconduct allegations against band frontman Win Butler. Three women and one non-binary person have accused Butler of taking advantage of his fame and their fandom, including sending unwanted sexual messages, during incidents from 2015 to 2020. Butler has denied the allegations, claiming the relationships were consensual, and saying he was “very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behaviour”.
Feist was due to open for Arcade Fire at their gig at Manchester Arena tonight. In her statement, she then went on to explain her decision to remove herself and her band from the world tour. “The last two nights on stage, my songs made the decision for me. Hearing them through the lens was incongruous with what I’ve worked to clarify myself though my whole career.
The gig wasn’t a sell-out – working front of house the standing area is probably 60/70% full and the seats were not noticeably sparse. Taking to the stage to deafening cheers from the audience. Butler thanked the audience “from the bottom of my heart” for attending. It was the closest he came to alluding to the allegations. Every time you close your eyes…’ sings Arcade Fire frontman Butler. “LIES, LIES…’ roars back the crowd, as fans swarm around the B stage, in the middle of the arena on which the seven-piece band have somehow positioned themselves.
Opening with “Rebellion” – probably the best song from arguably their best album “Funeral”. – is a clever move; immediately setting the tempo and flow of what will be a long career spanning set. the band transfers to the main stage, there’s a reading of a poem ‘I Am Waiting’ fills the venue.
Showcasing the new album since the mixed reception of their last offering Everything now, sees a return to the electro-pop-disco, perfectly merging alongside Creature comfort and “Reflektor. Reflektor’s” disco-inspired title track, the crowd roaring their approval as Regine Chassagne takes on lead vocal duties, she also steals the show with “Sprawl II”, delves into the crowd with a security guard working overtime making a pathway through an ecstatic crowd as her voice elevates above the song’s “Heart of Glass” groove. The lights cut at her command, and she finishes with a euphoric, ribbon-strewn dance. The setlist ties together every phase of their career and grants coherence to what has sometimes sounded like an identity crisis.
Returning to the “We” stage in the middle of the arena, with a little overindulgence of an extended “:End of the empire I-IV”, having already given the obligatory shout out to some of Manchester’s finest bands, a cover version of New Order’s “Temptation” was the penultimate offering. Finally, the classic and most popular track of the night is “Wake up”. Leaving the stage as the crowd trying to extend their night in the Arena.
There is no doubt that Arcade Fire have earned a place in the aristocracy of musical heavy weights. However, the underlying thing that will transgress from tonight’s performance and upcoming gigs will be what has been said, or not been said, the unsettling cloud of the accusations, lurking in the background, only in the fullness of time, will we hopefully have the answers and a conclusion to the situation, everyone involved deserves.
1/ Rebellion (Lies)
2/ Age of anxiety I
3/ Ready to start
4/ Neighbourhood #1
5/ Crown of love
9/ Age of anxiety II (rabbit hole)
10/ The Lightning I
11/ The Lightning II
12/ Modern Man
13/ The Suburbs
14/ The Suburbs Continued
15/ Sprawl II (mountain beyond the mountains)
16/ Everything now
17/ Unconditional I (look out Kid)
18/ End of empire I-III
19/ End of empire IV (Sagittarius)
20/ Temptation (new order)
21/ Wake up.
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My life is a soundtrack, i track my life through music, photography is my passion, my escape, my expression. Without both i have pieces missing, thankfully i’m blessed and get to combine both.
Born in Manchester, lived in Australia for 22 years where i was heavily involved in the Australian Music Industry, firstly in bands (Singer) and then managing bands (all original), I moved back to the UK, Wales specifically 10 years ago and married my childhood sweetheart and life is good.