Sunday, September 30, 2007

Arcade Fire w/ LCD Soundsystem 9/30/07 @ Roy Wilkins

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So, I’ve developed a theory about Arcade Fire shows-you can tell how good the show is by the amount of instruments thrown into the air during their set. The more instruments launched into the air, the better the show. Well, last night at the venerable old dinosaur known as the ‘Legendary’(when did that hyperbole get attached to the venue) Roy Wilkins Auditorium, instruments were flying into the air with reckless abandon, Will Butler raced to the balcony to play drums, and the band as a whole was smoking, blowing away everyone who was lucky enough to be in attendance. Playing their first Minnesota show since the amazing First Ave gig almost exactly two years ago (that show was on Sept. 29th), the band was in fine form, adding a two piece horn section since I saw them in Chicago, as well as some slight additions to their always stunning video/light show (the videos of the crowd overlaying the bible projections during Wake Up was a great touch.) And having the wondrous LCD Soundsytem open up definitely got the party started right. Playing a longer opening set because the touted ‘special guest’ that was advertised for the show never materialized, James Murphy and co. worked up the crowd with a boisterous and confident opening set, proving to me that music can indeed sound good at Roy Wilkens, a positive sign of things to come. And the collaborations I was hoping for also materialized, with Win, Will, Colin, and Kelly joining the band for ‘North American Scum,’ Jeremy sitting in on ‘All My Friends,’ Regine playing on ‘Someone Great,’ and Tim wailing on guitar for ‘New York I Love You…’ Altogether a riotous opening set that got the crowd primed and ready for the splendor that is the Arcade Fire. The lights dimmed, and the familiar wailing of the preacher lady echoed in the halls-they’ve done some modifying of this intro as well, accompanied by the feedback of the band as they took to their instruments-it still is quite a site to see the ‘army’ of band members file onto the stage. Gradually, the cacophony of their arrival settled in to opener ‘Black Mirror’ that allowed for the band to ease into the night and their sound people to dial in their levels. After a somewhat muddy start, the sound was exceptional the rest of the night (Cheers to Sharon for that-quite an accomplishment to get the mix that perfect.) Win exhorted the people in the balcony to ‘Stand the fuck up-this is a rock n’ roll show’ before tearing into an exuberant version of ‘Keep The Car Running’ that finally got the crowd moving, which definitely kept up with a soaring version of ‘Laika’ complete with some helmet drumming and overall high-jinks from Will and the rest of the band-a great version that seemed to energize both the crowd and the band. ‘No Cars Go,’ was an open invitation for the crowd to get more involved, and us kids know, of course, and the band fed off the building energy of the crowd, and the sound was tight and enormous, filling the auditorium with the resounding chorus of ‘Let’s Go.’ And go they did. After a feedback laced intro, ‘Haiti’ was beautiful, complete with the towering shadow of Regine dancing on the backdrop. ‘Cold Wind’ was a real surprise, and most of the people around me didn’t recognize it, unfortunately, but it was a hear-wrenching version that cooled down the momentum of the set slightly, but also gave the AF diehards in the crowd a rarity that we were all excited about. Win remarked that ‘this feels a little like a hockey game. The Canadian National Anthem is next,’ and they tore into a remarkable version of ‘Intervention’ that picked the energy level of the crowd right back up again. It was at this point I believe the band decided that no matter how sterile the venue was in comparison to the grand places they’ve played recently (Hollywood Bowl, Red Rocks, etc…) this crowd was feeling it, the sound was right, and they just decided to unleash a corker of a final half of the show. It started with a ferocious version of ‘Antichrist Television Blues’ that had the crowd clapping and dancing along, Regine screaming the lyrics, and Win shredding on guitar. ‘Ocean of Noise’ was turbulent and wonderful, complete with incredible videos projected on the screen-I am continually stunned with the beauty of this song. Next up was ‘Windowsill’ a song I’ve liked off the new record, but never loved, until last night. This version was on-fire. Win sang with a conviction and urgency that really brought the song to life for me, and after an extended outro, they segued into a brief version of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Money Changes Everything’ and a few verses of LCD’s ‘All My Friends,’- a wonderful way to end a scorching version of ‘Windowsill,’ and a nice tip of the hat to a talented opening act. ‘The Well and the Lighthouse’ was all about the captivating video screens for me, adding elements to the song that perhaps weren’t as fleshed out on record, complete with a smirking Regine that seemed to be playing at the top of a well as you looked up from the bottom-tough to describe, but visually arresting. ‘This next song is about snow. You guys should know all about it’ was how Win introduced an inspiring version of ‘Tunnels’ that had the crowd bouncing along to the beat, and snowflakes ‘falling’ on the backdrop. A very energetic version, that was followed quickly by the one-two punch that is the ‘Power Out->Rebellion’ combination. These two songs pack so much energy and feeling into such anthemic music, it’s impossible not to get swept away and lost in the moment. The crowd also provided the loudest ‘We Found The Light’ sing/shout along that I have heard in the six times I’ve seen the band, causing Win to smile in recognition. ‘Rebellion’ had the general admission main floor jumping and throwing their hands in the air to rousing chorus of ‘Lies, Lies.’- a perfect exclamation point to a roisterous main set. The thunderous ovation that saw the band off the stage didn’t let up at all, and it wasn’t long until the band came back with big smiles adorning all of their faces. There was a feeling in the auditorium that we were all part of a special night, and that feeling continued when Win announced ‘This is an old song. It’s called Headlights Look Like Diamonds.’ I have seen, in recent setlists, that this song has been played occasionally, and I was secretly hoping for it all night. And this version didn’t disappoint, it was very guitar heavy, with Will stalking the stage with his guitar and the whole band throwing everything they had into the song. It was amazing. And after that, there was nothing left to do other than ‘Wake Up.’ And what a rousing version it was. The crowd sang the intro to the song so loudly that there was almost no need for the band to join in, showing them that this was truly a participatory event. Their songs were ours as much as theirs, and the band fed off that unity to unleash a truly rowdy version of the closer. It was an anthem for the ages, and left all in attendance invigorated and inspired. The Arcade Fire came into a musty old glorified gymnasium, and for one night, turned it into the absolute place to be. It was a show that the band needed to play here, highlighting their glorious new album ‘Neon Bible’ to a crowd filled with people anxious to hear those songs live, and dusting off some older gems that had the walls shaking. A show of the year candidate that rivaled the Chicago Theatre shows in May, and a truly ebullient performance by a band at the pinnacle of modern music.

Erik T.


Black Mirror
Keep the car running
No Cars Go
Cold Wind
Antichrist Television Blues
Ocean Of Noise
Windowsill/Money Changes Everything/All My Friends
The Well And The Lighthouse
Power Out->


Headlights Look Like Diamonds
Wake Up

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LCD Soundsystem

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Arcade Fire
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Amazing show!!!!

More Pics of the show on My Flickr Page
LCD Soundsystem Slideshow
Arcade Fire Slideshow

Kyle and Stacy over at More Cowbell will have a review of the show also check it out