Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Arcade Fire, Glasgow SECC, 26 October 2007

I managed to miss the first support (Clinic) but caught most of the second (Wild Light), whio were pleasant indie fare, not unlike a less numerous and less orchestral Arcade Fire, in fact.

Arcade Fire themselves were wonderful, all ten of them. Their stage lighting is much more elaborate than I'd expected given their liking for small, intimate performances, but they are certainly geared up for the big venues now. They did quite a lot of stuff that wasn't familiar: one was introduced as an old song but others may have been new material. I went through the albums again and I don't think I was just being dumb: some of it really was different stuff. Some of the songs sound quite different live, though.

Numbers that I did recognise (and can remember!) were their opener (Black Mirror), Antichrist Television Blues, Tunnels, The Well and the Lighthouse, Power Out, Rebellion, Keep the Car Running, Intervention (first encore) and Wake Up (second encore, and with audience singing probably audible in Carlisle). They used quite a few video clips, including one of a crazed televangelist ranting which suddenly had me wondering if the band were about to morph into the Alabama 3 and do Mao Tse-Tung Said.

The vocals seemed rather muddy early on but seemed to be mixed further up later, though Regine's voice was still a bit thin. The instrumental mix was spot on, though, with Intervention sounding especially grand with its two violins, two French horns, pipe organ and glockenspiel (it sounded even better than on the album). I was a tiny bit disappointed that they didn't have a harp with them, as the harp parts on both albums are especially fine (and Wake Up in particular has a very prominent part). Still, mustn't grumble. The violinists (actually, one may have been a viola) appeared to be decorative as well as enthusiastic (I really should have taken binoculars, as the seated area in the SECC is some way from the stage). The pipe organ dominated the set though not (except on Intervention) the mix. And I was trying to remember when I'd last seen a French horn on stage in a rock concert (Hilary reminded me: The Polyphonic Spree).

One thing I found sometimes amusing and sometimes just plain distracting was Will Butler's onstage antics. (Not to be confused with Wim Butler, who just gets on with singing and playing.) When called on to play glockenspiel, Will would be waving his beaters over his head as though trying to have the instrument accepted as a new event in the World Air Guitar championships. When playing cymbals he roamed around the stage clashing them in a life-threatening manner, up close and personal (though perfectly in time, of course). For his one number on guitar he ran repeatedly from side to side of the stage when playing, exactly like a stressed-out zoo animal in a small enclosure. And while playing glockenspiel during Wake Up he managed to knock over a suspended cymbal stand with one of his wild gestures. Not sure whether he was high or simply hyper-active: either way he was still getting the job done musically, but I did find myself wondering for each number what he'd be getting up to.

A good evening, though I can see why they prefer smaller venues with more audience rapport. A shame they didn't do their wonderful cover version of Serge Gainsbourg's Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son as they did last time they played Glasgow: now that would have been perfect.


At 02 November, 2007 19:19, Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Grand review - had meant to say before! - and I will be doing mine shortly (at the new collaborative music blog).


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