Live review: Arcade Fire pulls out all the stops for second night at MSG
Fri Aug 6 2010
Though on paper, the second night of a two-night stint can be seen as the undercard (as most critics and press will be in attendance for the first night, which we reviewed here), the stakes were just a little different for last night's Arcade Fire show at MSG, a show that would be webcast live on YouTube and directed by American-born British filmmaker and Monty Python veteran Terry Gilliam (who gave a pretty great interview to The New York Times' Arts Beat blog). The band, knowing that the audience was significantly larger than just those contained in the not-quite-sold-out MSG, had extra incentive to deliver a bombastic, theatrical live show. And (not to gush) the band broke through any kind of preconceived notion of how far it could go on that promise.
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Arcade Fire was simply splendid, playing a well-balanced set that spliced in lots of Funeral, a now-legendary debut that propelled the band into the consciousness of mainstream music fans, and the stronger songs from the lopsided Neon Bible ("Intervention" and "Keep the Car Running"), while also showing off sharp, new cuts from The Suburbs. Win, for the life of him, could not stay out of the crowd; he wove through the pit and stood at the front of the bowl seating about a hundred yards from the stage during "We Used to Wait" and even exited through the GA section, stage left. Arcade Fire, who seem to keep adding more high-energy players into the mix, kept up the revelry on stage with a coterie that included opener (and former member) Owen Pallett. It was a show that truly matched the scale of Madison Square Garden.
Even the set's noticeable stumble became a strength; when a drum machine misfired during the gorgeous "Sprawl II," Win halted the production, saying, "This is live music.... We're going to start over again because it's a beautiful song." So they started it over and nailed it. Sigh.
It was a night of singing along, dancing, hitting the appropriate crowd cues ("TURN OFF THE LIGHT!" during "Neighborhood #3") and just a touch of sadness when the band rolled out "Wake Up," its trademark closing anthem.