Live Review: Arcade Fire


This review originally appeared in The Herald Newspaper (Scotland) on Monday November 18, 2013.

Arcade Fire aka The Reflektors
Barrowland, Glasgow
November 15
(Four stars)

There is a thrill in proximity. There is a charge of excitement that comes from seeing a globally revered cult-rock band in an intimate venue – rendering the untouchable touchable – no matter what they call themselves.

Until recently, they were known as Arcade Fire – a raggle-taggle Montreal troupe with an electrifying line in apocalyptic chamber-rock – but for this campaign, they are The Reflektors, invoking voodoo-rock and death-disco, while holding a mirror up to society, or humanity, or even just our fancy dress.

Costumery was mandatory for the show, and it was sight to behold: a ballroom of ball-gowns, head-dresses and face-paint; top hats, tiaras and a dude in a Super Mario catsuit; two loved-up women in tuxedos and Venetian masks (will you marry me?); sequinned capes and balaclavas; a mariachi marching band.

Their James Murphy-produced new double-album, Reflektor, has been accused of outstaying its welcome on record (and tracks like Flashbulb Eyes do plod a bit), but its Haitian jams and loping grooves found their (dancing) feet in our party environment, especially the title track’s hoodoo rays, the Byrne-ian lean-rock of Normal Person, the psychotropic slasher-funk of Afterlife, and the dread-core Macarena grind of Here Comes The Night Time.

Amid Devo covers, papier-mache heads, crowd-surfing and a show-stopping rendition of It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus) – Regine Chassagne was on typically spellbinding form – the biggest sparks flew from their earliest songs; from Arcade Fire’s 2004 debut LP (and manifesto), Funeral. The calypso-rock charge of Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) was a joy, and an encore of Wake Up raised the roof. “We’ve been saving that one for a special occasion” beamed frontman Win Butler. And so it was.

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