Welcome to the 'Everything Now' era
There’s something neat about Primavera Sound 2017 wrapping up in the same way it began.
Among the many highlights: the emotive return of Bon Iver, Mogwai’s surprise run-through of their new album in full, and the faintly ludicrous sight of Solange and Slayer sharing a stage. But Arcade Fire have bookended it all.
On Thursday (June 1), on a specially erected 360-degree stage, with the backdrop of a spectacular blood orange sunset illuminating Barcelona’s jagged skyline, they played an unannounced performance timed to coincide with the release of new song ‘Everything Now’, and the announcement of their fifth album of the same name.
Primavera Sound and Arcade Fire know each other very well, the Canadians headlined as recently as 2014. “You’ve been good to us over the years,” acknowledges Win Butler. “This is where we wanted to start our tour.”
But if that 60-minute show on the opening night was the trailer, this was supposed to be the main feature: the whistles and bells unveiling of a new stage show, the first of a string of major gigs now scheduled on their ‘Infinite Content’ tour and Primavera’s closing night swan-song. And, of course, hopes are high. This is a band whose most recent tour production featured a man doubling as a human disco ball and a segment of the show where they would perform in the middle of the arena in an attempt to make the whole thing feel like Saturday Night Fever.
What’s immediately striking about Arcade Fire’s latest incarnation is, comparatively, how unstylised it all is. There’s no smears of face paint like the ‘Neon Bible’ years, or mariachi suits. It’s kind of casual – each member wears a branded “EN” bomber jacket. Win Butler sports a T-shirt with neon-orange trim, matching bright boots and a black hat.
And, unusually for AF, the first hour of their (almost two hour) performance is casual, too. It’s as if Thursday’s gig has taken the nervous sting out of the occasion. Opener ‘Wake Up’ is a solid start. ‘Haiti’, ‘Here Comes The Night’ and a rare outing for ‘Neon Bible’ follow. Even ‘No Cars Go’ feels a touch flat. It’s all good, but then Arcade Fire are rarely just good.