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Concert Review: Arcade Fire at The Bank of America Pavilion in Boston, MA

August 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Concert Reviews, Daily Music News

Arcade Fire
Bank of America Pavilion
Boston, MA
August 1, 2010

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Reviewed by:  Dorise Gruber

It’s not hard to love a band like the Arcade Fire.  Playing a sold-out Bank of America Pavilion show on a perfect summer night, the husband and wife team Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, joined onstage by Win’s brother William and 5 other performers, not only play the kind of music you want to hear, but are the kind of people you want to hang out with, too. 

Arcade Fire doesn’t need to focus much on show-banter to imbue their genuinely affable dispositions into their set.  Win is not a traditionally handsome man, but has an alluring stage presence.  Dressed neatly in an aviator shirt, crawling over crowds and climbing up drum kits, Win’s intensity is palpable. Wife Régine balances her husband’s fervor jaunting playfully around the stage, swishing her shiny gold dress, donning sequined ruby red gloves, her mop of perfect curls tucked into a loose ponytail.  She dances freely and cutely, sometimes like a marionette and other times like a schoolgirl with ribboned-tambourines on a swing – there is nothing about her movement that is forced.  With Régine being a Haitian native, the few words that she and Win spoke between songs promoted how portions of ticket sales were granted to Partners in Health, and how important it is to support the work of this relief organization.

Since Arcade Fire has only become popular since the release of their first hit album, Funeral, in 2005, I was surprised to see what a varied crowd they brought out.  Certainly, it was mostly wading through a sea of plaid, but two rows in front of me housed an old Bubbie armed with a fanny pack, shakin’ her hips harder than any of the other kids at the show.  She was one of at least three grandmothers within my three-yard radius, and all of them would’ve been a force to reckon with in a dance-off.

I’ve been discussing Arcade Fire with friends a lot lately, as we’ve all been greatly anticipating the release of their brand new album, The Suburbs, on August 2nd.  The two best analogies I heard were that they have an “other-worldly” sound, where listening to Arcade Fire transports you to a place that transcends the music itself.  The other was that they have a very “full” sound, “almost like you’re under water.”  With eight onstage instrumentalists, armed with two full drum kits, piano, violins/violas, guitars, extra toms, accordion, mandolin, glockenspiel, and even the hurdy-gurdy, it is not surprising that they’re able to create an ocean of sound.  Most of the musicians rotated instruments throughout the show, which with different performance-styles provides even more texture to the music.  While not always true that more is better, Arcade Fire’s album and song themes are so powerful and songwriting skill so deft that no instrument sounds extraneous to the symphony.  In concert, the power of the music was further heightened by the accompanying mirrored-video playing in the background, which layered abstract videos (wide-mouthed swimmers, a chess board, Win and Régine dancing) with live footage from the show in an antiqued production.

Arcade Fire showcased primarily songs from their new album, The Suburbs, even though it wasn’t going to be released until the day after the show.  It was easy to separate the die-hard Arcade Fire fans from their more casual listeners, as many knew the lyrics already to songs played from the unreleased album, while others only came alive when their Funeral and Neon Bible hits were featured.  Win even acknowledged this before playing “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” by saying “Sorry to confuse you with all the new songs!”  Even though the new songs might not have gotten as strong a crowd response, it was clear people still enjoyed the new material.  Though The Suburbs isn’t quite as dark as previous albums, it is just as strong.  It stays true to the Arcade Fire style and debuts sides of the band we haven’t seen before, with a general throw-back sound featured throughout the album, not to mention an introduction to Win’s beautiful falsetto in the title song.

While I think it would be hard for an Arcade Fire show to be anything but a 5-star performance, my only wish would have been that they’d played more songs.  With so many genius songs to select from, it seems a shame to miss anything from their catalog.  No worries if you couldn’t get tickets or missed out on hearing some of your favorites – their August 5th show at Madison Square Garden will be webcast for all to enjoy at, directed by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame.  At their Pavilion performance, they even dedicated one of their new tracks, “Modern Man,” to Terry.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see Arcade Fire twice in concert now, and both times have been simply phenomenal.  Their music is majestic and consuming, their affects sweet and sincere.  This most recent concert was a strong sneak preview of their new album, and if you haven’t already gotten your hands on The Suburbs I suggest you move that to the top of your to-do list!

Set List:
Ready to Start – The Suburbs
Month of May – The Suburbs
Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – Funeral
No Cars Go – Neon Bible
Haiti – Funeral
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – The Suburbs
We Used to Wait – The Surburbs
Intervention – Neon Bible
Modern Man – The Suburbs
The Suburbs – The Suburbs
Deep Blue – The Suburbs
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) – Funeral
Rebellion (Lies) – Funeral
Half Light II (No Celebration) – The Suburbs
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) – Funeral
Keep the Car Running – Neon Bible
Wake Up – Funeral


For more on Arcade Fire visit their official website

View our full photo gallery from the show here!

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