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Review: Arcade Fire at London's Earls Court

The Canadian indie-rockers preview what's in store for their Glastonbury headline set...

Glastonbury headliners and bona fide indie-rock royalty Arcade Fire gave a preview of their hotly-anticipated Friday night set will be like with two huge shows at London's Earls Court over the weekend.

Gone are the band's early days of Amish-like uniforms and intricate string arrangements of their debut album Funeral, only to be replaced with elaborate stage set-ups – they opened with a man stood in the middle of the arena wearing a suit made of ACTUAL mirrors – neon face paint and roaring, bombastic disco-funk numbers from their incredible fourth album Reflektor.

It takes a lot of balls to open with a ten-minute track, like Arcade Fire did with their single Reflektor (yes, taken from the album of the same name), but it set the tone early as to what fans had in store – pretty much an all-out free-for-all carnival set in the year 3,000.

That might've been helped, though, by the night's two incredible support acts – Lorde, who continued her meteoric rise to t he top, and 2ManyDJs, who made sure everyone had found their dancing shoes with a disco-ladden set on the decks.

Most bands would kill for career-defining hits like Arcade Fire’s Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) and Rebellion (Lies), but the indie-rockers knocked them out back-to-back in the first 20 minutes, showing their unwavering faith in the fans to lap up new material.

If there’s one thing Arcade Fire do better than anyone else, it’s huge choruses – as proved with 20,000 fans singing at the top of their voices and drowning out frontman Win Butler on songs like No Cars Go, The Suburbs and Intervention. It's moments like this that are going to make their Glasto set truly the stuff of legend.

The Canadian band even paid tribute to their English hosts at Earls Court, with a few bars of The Beatles classic Helter Skelter and a furious slap-dash cover of The Smiths’ London, while Win paraded around wearing a giant bobble-head of the Queen accompanied by an unknown chap wearing a TV monitor emblazoned with Morrissey's face. Yes, really. Camp as you like.

After a silver confetti-filled encore of Here Comes The Night Time, the brand brought the night to a close with the anthemic Wake Up, which kept fans singing long after they’d left the venue and jumped on the tube home.

With Metallica already facing massive backlash at Glasto, the pressure is on for Arcade Fire to deliver – but if their stop off in London is anything to go by, their trip to Worthy Farm will be something truly, truly special.

Words Ryan Butcher, @ryanjohnbutcher
Image JF Lalonde

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