Arcade Fire Concert Review – Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena – 03.16.14
In an age of absolute fleeting success, lack of staying power (or for that matter, actual instruments); there are a handful of organic musicians pushing the counter culture. Stemming from more than a decade of what felt like instantaneous success, Arcade Fire has developed and still maintains an almost trademarked sound; a potpourri of guitar instrumentation woven with keyboard and piano, accented by violins and various strings, brushed with several pipe instruments (including saxophone and clarinet), with additional organ instruments, and lacing the package up in electronic accents.
The Canadian indie outfit’s show in Cleveland tonight (03.16.14) marked the band’s first trip to the area since an abbreviated version of the band played two free shows in one night at the Beachland Ballroom in 2008 in support of then presidential candidate, Barack Obama.
Arcade Fire had the verbiage ‘Formal Attire/Costume’ printed on the tickets for their current trek, inspiring fans to come out in their Sunday best. Many wore dresses with leggings and heals; the gentlemen in sport coats and ties. The Cleveland indie scene seemingly walked to prom this evening. Honorable mention on the costume side goes out to those in St. Patrick’s Day garb, large paper mache heads, and the individual in a Stars Wars helmet. Wardrobe choices by many in attendance made for a great night of people watching.
Powerful lights hit the venue and the six bandmates (along with four additional touring musicians) took to the stage, which was packed with duplicate pianos, two drum kits, a steel drum section, violins, keyboards, a saxophonist and clarinet as well as the bass and electric guitars. The group moved seamlessly throughout the performance, intricately navigating one another and the equipment.
Located at the opposite end of the floor, a second stage was used throughout the performance, at times throwing the audience in a whirl on where to focus their attention.
Touring in support of the band’s fourth studio album, ‘Reflektor’ (10.29.13; Merge Records), produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, fans embrace the consistency of sound that have made the band famous, and acknowledge the positive evolution on the new record.
Frontman Win Butler led the group through what amounted to be a mix of new and old Arcade Fire tunes, blending a mix of each album into the set, including songs from their 2004 debut, ‘Funeral,’ new songs from ‘Reflektor,’ with numbers from ‘Neon Bible’ (2007) and ‘The Suburbs’ (2010) thrown in as well.
Prior to performing “We Exist,” a song with lyrics portraying a conversation between a gay child and his father, Butler described protesters he encountered during the band’s recent trip to the Oscars who were sporting signage with hateful and ignorant messages.
“Afterlife,” “Intervention,” and “No Cars Go” proved to be highlights. The real standout of the evening was “It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus),” when Butler’s wife, Régine Chassagne took command of the stage with an infectious smile, beauty, dynamic personality and presence all wrapped up in sequins.
Mid-performance of “Sprawl II” found a front row fan collapsing as he passed through the crowd to the front rail for assistance, stopping the band’s performance. Once the situation cleared, Butler asks ‘can we take it from the top? Let’s take it from the top!’ Not missing a beat, Chassagne broke into song, commanding the audience yet again.
Although Butler is the captain of the SS Arcade Fire, Chassagne is the infectious show stopper, dancing on a dueling stage at the rear of the venue with a skeleton reminiscent of Carnivale.
The Reflektors (the pseudonym under which Arcade Fire performed gigs to promote their new album) made an appearance at encore with an odd rendition of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones while Arcade Fire marches back on stage and mocks the dueling band clad with paper mache heads. The band also pulled a DEVO cover out of their pocket, “Uncontrollable Urge.”
At the end of nearly an hour and half performance the venue exploded into an array of lights and confetti as the band departs to the hum of “Here Comes the Nighttime” a fitting end to a wonderful formal evening. “When you look in the sky, just try looking inside / God knows what you might find / Here comes the night time.” And with that, the city of Cleveland went home, still wearing their winter’s finest, wishing for warmer weather, a winning Indians season, and one day, very soon, to be greeted by the presence of one of the world’s best indie bands, yet again.
Before the show, concert goers were greeted by fan-volunteers who, are promoting donations and awareness of the band’s Haiti Relief efforts. Close to the band’s family roots; Chassagne’s parents hail from Haiti, escaping during the dictatorship of François Duvalier, making this cause ever more important to the band’s mission. Since 2006, Arcade Fire has donated one dollar from every ticket to volunteer efforts in Haiti, assisting in and training to the rebuilding of the communities there, even funding a $100M training hospital. For more information on Arcade Fire and Haiti, and future volunteer opportunities please visit: http://www.plus1.org/afheartshaitivolunteers