York Hall, London
Arcade Fire’s decision to leave the arenas alone and return to smaller, more interesting venues across of the UK left their two London dates at York Hall in Bethnal Green in stupendously high demand.
Setting up in a similar ilk to their secret Primavera show that launched their latest album, the venue, best known for its boxing, was utilised so the band were playing 360° with the crowd on all sides. For an act who sell out 20,000 capacity venues, the unique setting and frankly tiny capacity wasn’t lost on this reviewer. This was a gig of grand pomp in a small setting.
After being introduced in the style of a ringside announcer – another smart touch – the band launched into current über-single Everything Now. The phrase forms the title of their of their latest album as well as being the basis of a logo which adorns their merchandise and banners which, tonight, are strung across the balcony. Already prompting huge sing-alongs, the track is the opening salvo for a gig that doesn’t overly rely on new material but gets progressively more raucous in the second half.
The ongoing feature of Arcade Fire is their intensity. Every lyric, every body movement is delivered like it’s the most life affirming statement you’ve ever heard. Tonight it again feels there is nothing left in the locker: Reflektor again continues to be their most dynamic track live, Ready To Start is as fierce as you hope and new track Creature Comfort has a power in the live arena that, perhaps, isn’t totally captured on record.
Accentuated by the temperature of the venue, there is a real jubilation in the air for much of this gig. Feeling almost like victory lap even though the record isn’t even out yet, there are very few bands on the planet that can pull off these levels and by the time the obligatory closer Wake Up has finished there was a palpable drama to what you’d just witnessed. A special band playing a special venue, it was a treat to have witnessed Arcade Fire step back in the ring this week.