Artist: Arcade Fire
Venue: Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Victoria, Australia (in the somewhat elite seated section – not that we sat down)
Date: Wednesday, 21 January, 2014
Who?: The amorphous ensemble from up Quebec way with a huge indie/crossover following, a big equipment haulage budget, and a welcome desire to dazzle.
Crowd?: Thousands of adoring folks with about 30% beards and lots of skinny jeans.
Best Bits: The aforementioned razzle dazzle, human bobblehead costumes, about three absolute killer tracks.
Could be Better: Heavier basslines, better mix (percussion was too muted), perhaps less cowbell.
Dream Venue: At a festival where they had to tighten up the setlist
Dream Lineup: I’m thinking Echo & the Bunnymen, Bright Eyes… and reformed Canadian gag-popsters Corkie and the Juice Pigs:
Worth a Second Look?: At a festival, yes. At this price solo, nah, probably not.
Give us a look: OK, here’s 67 mins of action (Win wore the same jacket last night)
I thought I’d break up the Liquor Giants quartet with this recent acquisition (via the very generous Andy).
Diving into this album was a surefire recipe for a delayed review.
This is not a cheap and dirty nine-track exercise pumped out one afternoon in the studio. Rather it is a finely structured 16-track artwork, exploring the nuances of suburban life in all its grandeur and minutiae.
Their ‘Funeral’ release impressed back on review #7, and this is a rosier, slightly less melodramatic counterpoint. It’s still as arty as hell, with a lusciousness and splendour that makes this feel like an event.
Concessions to popdom can be found however, such as on the title track (which sounds like a less angsty Ed Harcourt):
I keeping hearing wafts of Go Betweens on here amongst all the Bowie and Morrissey elements, and that’s a great achievement, immersed as the Queenslanders were in a similar homage to the beauty and heartache of the day-to-day.
It isn’t all fresh-cut lawn, sprinklers and Stepford Wives. The band also glam rock it better than most. Month of May had me picturing stacked platform boots and eye-makeup (sadly, that isn’t the look in this live version):
File under: (Art-) Rocking the suburbs
This is certainly a rousing effort from the Montrealers. Loads of instruments, layers of sounds, swirling vocals. And it all comes together pretty effectively, as they sustain the intensity and the beauty throughout.
The most impressive thing about this album, is the extent to which as a listener I feel I have pinned down their “sound” (e.g. “Ahh, it’s a Pixies for 2000s”), only to find them surprising me in the next moment with a stunning shift in direction.
This is unashamed “art rock”, with loads of strings, and soaring vocals and percussion. But, it does manage to come off as not toooo pretentious. There is a clear grasp of the emotional side of all this. Good old fashioned “walls of sound” win out on a number of tracks.
On all accounts, these guys are astounding live. That’s easy to imagine as recreating this sound (and adding some spontaniety) would be truly impressive. The music is so well-suited to the live arena. Feeling it wash over you must be quite primal. I was too lazy to get tickets to see them when they hit Melbourne in 2008. Next time I’ll be more on the ball.
File under: Arty smarties.