Arcade Fire Electrifies Chicago: review of 8/26 show


My view from the cheap seats


Arcade Fire, the powerhouse indie rock band based out of Montreal, returned to Chicago for two nights this week during their Reflektor tour.  A lot had changed since the band was last here during Easter week of 2011.  The success of their new album brought more fans, bigger stages, additional musicians, and amped up effects.  All of that paired with the requirement of formal attire or costumes for concert goers helped create an atmosphere of what I can only describe as Halloween meets Prom meets New Years Eve.  It was truly one of the most exciting ambiances I have ever experienced at a concert, and I have been to MANY concerts!

After receiving a thorough and humorous warm up from DEVO and electronic musician Dan Deacon, front man Win Butler and his bobble headed friends made their way through the crowd and up to the main stage.  I’m fairly certain that half of the people in GA didn’t even realize what was going on until he was right next to them.

Arcade Fire quickly set the tone for the night when they opened with the Haitian influenced Here Comes the Night Time accompanied by metallic streamers and confetti.  From there the band quickly jumped back to the Funeral album and shook fans to their core with Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).  There were some technical difficulties during the set, but Butler wasn’t fazed, and took advantage of the situation by playing a skin and bones version of My Body is a Cage until all functions were restored.  The band was very playful Tuesday night.  Win Butler, wholly under the impression that it was Monday (and then realizing, “Oh fuck, it’s Tuesday!  I don’t know what day it is”), was very grateful that so many fans came out to see them on a week night.  He mentioned how they loved playing in Chicago and that they had seen many Bulls game at the Madhouse.   Like a true fan, Win even preached, “God bless Derrick Rose…and may he always be healthy!”

Arcade Fire made full use of both of their stages throughout the concert.  During We Exist, with its strong pro-LGBT lyrics, men in heels with an overdose of sass strut around the B Stage in their pumps.  A person in a disco ball suit reflected beams of white light into the crowd during Afterlife, and the Imposter Band opened up the encore singing Happy Birthday to the United Center and pretending to play Bo Diddley’s I’m a Man before Arcade Fire took over with a cover of his Who Do You Love.  Most impressive though was what happened during It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus).  The song follows the Greek myth of Orpheus, poet and singer, and his wife Eurydice who has recently died.  Overcome by grief, Orpheus travels to the underworld where he is told he can bring Eurydice back under one condition—he cannot turn around to look at her as he sings their way out of the underworld.  If Orpheus gives in and looks to see if Eurydice is still behind him, she will be banished back to the underworld.

And if I shout for you
Never doubt
Don’t turn around too soon
Just wait until it’s over. 

During this song, Win sang across a sea of fans to Régine who was on the B Stage with skeleton dancers swarming her.  With a slight blurring effect, Régine truly looked as if she were a ghost behind pulled back by deathly demons.  I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect setup for this song in my wildest dreams.

The incredibly multitalented Arcade Fire never ceases to put on a memorable show.  It was a beautiful night of music and art and is sure to be one fans will remember for years.

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