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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 1, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 40
Arcade Fire delivers epic performance
Arts & Entertainment
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Arcade Fire delivers epic performance

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Arcade Fire
September 29
Key Arena


What went through my head as I arrived at Key Arena, and for months leading up to Wednesday night since the Arcade Fire concert was first announced, was whether or not the band could pull an amazing performance out of an acoustically challenged sports arena.

Three songs into their set, all my worries were cast aside. This was a performance for the time capsule.

The Grammy-nominated ensemble opened with 'Ready to Start,' the leadoff single from their 2010 album The Suburbs. Unlike the Arcade Fire of 2007, whose male players looked spiffy in dress slacks, button-down shirts, and suspenders, the reinvention of this acclaimed act saw the men with shaggy hairdos, coveralls, plaid shirts, track pants, and its frontman Win Butler sporting a partially shaved head. The women, as always, were a cross between elegant and bubbly.

Arcade Fire whipped things up with a rousing version of 'Keep the Car Running,' a track from their highly praised album Neon Bible. Unique in that band members rotate positions and play at least three instruments each, Butler suddenly found himself in the back while his wife, Regine Chassagne, sang lead on a spunky rendition of 'Haiti.' Minutes later, she guided the group on a purely magical run-through of 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)' - there were so many instruments being strummed, tapped, blown into, and pounded at one time that it felt as if we were in the pit of an all-star band's jam session.

'For the birthplace of grunge, you guys are pretty fucking polite!' shouted Butler, perhaps referring to the many poseurs on the main floor who stood in place without so much as shrugging a shoulder or snapping a finger, instead of really letting loose during what could easily be the best concert this city has seen all year. Once again, Seattle hipsters proved too cool to have a good time.

Opening act Calexico joined Arcade Fire for a beautiful, delicate take on 'Ocean of Noise,' climaxing with a Latin-tinged trumpet arrangement. The main set was polished off with the group's biggest hit, 'Rebellion (Lies),' spurring the audience to sing loudly along to every word and croon the final bars in appropriate, anthemic fashion like soccer fans at a huge stadium.

A two-song encore included 'Intervention,' complete with a stirring mix of guitars, organ-like keyboards, violins and a tingling triangle - not to mention Butler dramatically wailing the chorus. Arcade Fire capped its 90-minute performance with a glorious rendition of 'Wake Up,' as one band member feverishly banged away on a snare drum and a collage of lights illuminated the entire stage - a big finish to a startling show.

Having seen Arcade Fire in a small theater three years ago at Portland's Schnitzer Hall, I was expecting this eclectic band to partially fail at Key Arena - after all, even the legends have trouble adjusting their style and sound to a larger venue. Not only were my expectations shattered, but I also found myself wishing it could happen all over again exactly the way it did.

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