by / December 7th, 2010 /

Arcade Fire – The O2, Dublin

The reasons I never ‘got’ Arcade Fire remain unclear. It may have been that I grew sick of people ordering me to love them upon my arrival home from a couple of years away. Returning to Ireland in 2005, it was all Orcade Foyre this, Orcade Foyre that. Jump forward five years, and I’m exiting the O2 breathless and emotional and struggling to think of the last group that has made a real, tangible connection with their audience on such a level. Boringly, U2 is all I can muster.

It should also be noted that tonight probably wasn’t even their best Irish show ever. Opening with the chugging insistence of ‘Ready To Start’, they were greeted by a white noise of welcome but still had to get us out of bed, as it were. ‘Stand the fuck up!” barked Win Butler to the seated tiers before ‘Month of May’’s staccato drone tore off in their direction. This show was happening, even if the crowd had to be prodded once or twice. ‘Neighborhood #2 (Laika)’ sees another plea to stand and be counted, but the malaise is then well and truly bludgeoned by ‘No Cars Go’. Salutes and a ‘HEY!’ chant that could split the ice outside give it the semblance of a fascist political rally. Arcade Fire’s aural Red Bull has found the bloodstream.

The audience are as proud of muscular new LP The Suburbs as the band are, swishing along to the title track and its hushed Thomas Newman-style outro, but the bar did get a little busier during ‘Modern Man’. It’s like watching two old friends catch up. “We know it’s hard times… politicians are fucking you over,” sighs Butler, unselfconsciously, at one point. The building roars in agreement.

The octet are finished with foreplay though, and with the encore in sight, they decide it’s time to slip it in. Butler wonders aloud which of their O2 performances will be the best, and that in their experience it’s usually the second. The O2 jeers in response. ‘Well then show us what you’ve fucking got. 1, 2, 3,…’ he snarls before ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ is detonated. Watching the group stroll away, the audience realises they have limited time left with their old friends. When they return to more white noise for a final brace of songs, everybody – everybody – wants to make up for initial lethargy. ‘Wake Up’ unites each last living voice in the former Point Depot. The chorus is overwhelming, like a winning try against England in Croke Park. We file out into the cold along with 13,000 or so others, our buttons firmly pushed. Now I get it.

Photos by Alessio Michelini.

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  • Gould

    Came all the way from Paris to see this show, and it was unbelievable. Arcade Fire are stronger, tighter and more confidant than ever. Immense, really.

  • Karen

    It sounds like I should have attended this gig as I also ‘never got’ Arcade Fire.. All comments post-gig from attendees have been fantastic, so I think I’ll be at the next!

  • Puck

    Never hugely into them myself, decided I needed to properly listen to Funeral last year when all the “best of the decade” lists came out after casually passing it over for years. Was pleasantly surprised so I picked up The Suburbs the week it came out and it’s definitely one of the best of 2010. They’re just a completely different story live though, the energy they generate is something else and, as the reviewer pointed out, by the end of the gig everyone in the crowd was involved. Spectacular show in usually soulless surroundings, overshadowed only by The National for gig of the year this year in my opinion.

  • Alan

    Got it in one – Great Gig, buttons pushed and left wanting more and wondering if I even needed anymore!!

  • Lisa

    The emotive roars of Butler was needed to wake up the crowd in the first half as they seem to have been standing in a daze throughout most of Vampire Weekend; who played a tight set but did not seem to fully engage with the crowd, which is such a shame as they are a magnificent band. We could have been left with a very transient, substandard gig if they had not demanded crowd participation from the offset; so thank god they have learned how to emote a crowd into participation as I did not need another Interpol type stand and be in awe gig…

  • Lisa

    The Nationals sublime brilliance on the Friday night cannot be under emphasised, but then the Olympia has that intrinsic intimacy which draws a crowd in and coupled with their emotive lyrics and stirring rhythmic playing; they quiet simply leave you longing for that next chance encounter, equatable really only to when you first meet someone and the butterflies begin to stir…

    A truly magical band and one which I almost pray does not get much bigger, as the larger venues would dwarf these beautiful men and possible destroy the ‘awkward, unhinged and wild’ side of Berninger which we are all so transfixed by.