For an arena tour, Manchester Central actually boasts a degree of intimacy and atmosphere that most large venues are unable to provide – the venue an old train station, it looms overhead like a desolate aircraft hanger. It’s still a huge hollow-yet-cramped space, but if anyone can do big and pull it off, it’s Arcade Fire.
The subtleties displayed on their recent album transform into bombastic and energised romps tonight; the faster numbers become even more charged; the rather throwaway and wretched ‘Month of May’ is even transformed to become brutally devastating in its effect and delivery, its extended outro an onslaught of noise that brings to mind the sonic molestations of My Bloody Valentine. ‘Neon Bible’, bar two or three songs, is all but ignored, but the ‘Funeral’ tracks feel as electric as they did all those years ago. When ‘Power Out’ is played, it explodes through the speakers with intensity, before it’s seamlessly mixed into the pulsating and rousing bass lines of ‘Rebellion (Lies)’. When you can predict the encore of a band, and in what order they are going to do them in, it certainly suggests that there is now a fairly expectant template to their shows; fortunately Arcade Fire do it with such relentless energy, erupting intensity and immaculate delivery that it’s rarely anything other than utterly beguiling.
By Daniel Dylan Wray
Originally published in issue 24 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. December 2010