Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Catch a Fire

And so to the MEN Arena in Manchester at the weekend, to catch the Arcade Fire. I'd seen them at Glastonbury this year, where they were very, very, good - but you did feel the open air dissipated the intensity somewhat. The MEN is hardly what you'd call intimate, but you felt the enclosed space would suit the 10-piece ensemble better.

And so it proved. Starting with the double whammy of Black Mirror and Keep the Car Running, they delivered a set of measured passion for an hour and a half, taking in all the highlights of their two albums and also finding room for a cover of The Smiths' 'Still Ill', played on stage for the first time, recognising their (local) influence on Win Butler and in oblique reference to his poor health this year.

With so many people on stage, swapping instruments and roles every song, and a series of somewhat unsettling projections, it was difficult to know where to look, although William Butler was always a good bet.

The Arcade Fire seemed to come from nowhere, delivering a noise unlike any other, making a refreshing change from the indie boy-by-numbers currently everywhere. They should be cherished and loved by all.

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