A boxing gym by day, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Bethnal Green’s York Hall was transformed into the buzziest venue in London thanks to the presence of one band, Arcade Fire. Win Butler and co. have a habit of taking to small venues to ‘re-launch’ before each album but even by their standards, the York Hall shows were intimate.
With the stage set up to resemble a boxing ring, the audience placed in the round, every fan in York Hall was granted a good view, the band’s members rotating around the stage and trading instruments as the show unfurled. In keeping with the boxing theme, Arcade Fire’s arrival to the stage was announced by an old school MC, fully suited, mic in hand, dubbing them ‘the undefeated Arcade Fire.’
Kicking off with the double act of ‘Everything Slow’ and ‘Everything Now’ Arcade Fire had had full control of the ring from the start, unleashing an expertly curated set list that drew on all four of the group’s albums as well as their soon to be released fifth.
The highlights in an Arcade Fire show speak for themselves. So anthemic are ‘Sprawl II’ and ‘No Cars Go’ that the opening notes alone unleash a roar of approval from the audience, while the group’s later, more disco-influenced tracks break up the sing-alongs with pounding, infectious grooves and inhibition-free dancing. Over the course of their near two-hour set, members of the group climb drum kits and amps, run wild in the pit and film the audience from the stage. The most ‘Arcade Fire’ moment of the show comes during ‘Reflektor’ when the band cut the lights and ask the audience to shine the torches on their phones at the stage. The collective result was actually pretty impressive.
It’s not until you see Arcade Fire live that you realise how talented it’s members truly are, swapping between percussion, keys, woodwind instruments and guitars with ease. New tracks ‘Sign of Life’ and ‘Creature Comfort’ are given extra energy live and as yet unreleased number ‘Chemistry’ was already provoking sing-a-longs. The group close with ‘Neighbourhood #3’ but it’s clear that no one was going anywhere without hearing ‘Wake Up’. The group returned for their encore, and every voice in the place joined in, ‘Wake Up’s vital chorus still ringing out as the audience began to file out of the venue and onto the tube. The Infinite Content tour has begun and Arcade Fire have proved they’ve got the energy and the tunes to keep going forever.