Arcade Fire at Camden's Roundhouse
Canadian megastars debut their disco-rock behemoth Reflektor in the UK...
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If you came here looking for an Arcade Fire review, you're going to be disappointed. Yes, we know the title says Arcade Fire, and for all intents and purposes, it's still Win, Regine and their troupe of troubled troubadours. But this is Arcade Fire like you've never known them before.
In fact, as we're ushered into the venue past glittering silver curtains and a mariachi band bashing out rock classics - literally, not metaphorically - we check our tickets and see it's even billed as The Reflektors: the "fake" band Arcade Fire are using to plug the new album. The icing on the cake comes with Win Butler introducing 'Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)', arguably the band's most recognisable single to date and the second song of Monday night's set list, with a shrugged "this is an Arcade Fire song".
Tonight's appearance at Camden's Roundhouse - also known as The Best Venue in all of London Ever - is more of a celebration of their number one album Reflektor, than a promotion. After forging a back catalogue of sweeping string arrangements, euphoric key changes and strangled smilies surrounding youth and upbringing, they came back last month with an LCD Soundsystem-produced disco-grunge behemoth which was, well, unlike anything Arcade Fire fans were expecting.
It's the best of the best of this album which makes up the bulk of tonight's set, whether it's the Mardi Gras anthem-in-waiting 'Here Comes The Night Time', the triumphant gang vocals of 'You Already Know' or the dirty, post-rock fuzz that makes up 'Joan of Arc'. Oh, and for our money, 'Reflektor', the single from which the album takes its name, the eight-minute Bowie-featuring Studio 54-revisted funk-fest, is not only the most flawless choice for a set opener we've heard all year, it's one of our front-running picks for single of the year, too. This, and a furious follow-up of of the aforementioned 'Power Out' served as one hell of a first ten minutes to the gig, and pretty much gave them free reign to do whatever else they wanted for the rest of the night.
What else do we need to tell you? Oh, formal attire and fancy dress was mandatory, which led to a lot of extravagant Venetian masks, there was free face painting, and the place was decked out with massive, glittering disco balls straight from the 1970s. Usually we worry about bringing the camp to a gig, but on this occasion we were beaten to the punch.
Tonight, they may have shunned away from their legacy as Arcade Fire, but what's that old adage about a rose with any other name still smelling as sweet? Arcade Fire, whether they want to call themselves The Reflektors, The Suburbs or The Dream of Win and Regine, are still one of the greatest live bands on the planet. This is just the beginning. Again.
Words: Ryan Butcher (@RyanJohnButcher)
Picture: JF Lalonde