I've seen some good shows in my limited concert attending life. This one will stand forever as a great concert: The Arcade Fire at the Corral, Calgary, AB, September 26 with Calexico.
Amber and I scored tickets through my friend Gary at church. They were on the floor, so I pushed for us to line up a little early so we could get close to the stage. Close we did get - right at the gate, just a couple feet from the stage, just left of centre.
Calexico, a roots/rock/mariachi band from Phoenix, opened. We were right in front of the trumpets. They were a lot of fun, some great music.
Earlier that day at New Hope Church, our pastor John preached on the truths that God speaks through Arcade Fire. A couple dozen New Hopers were at the show that night. It was a great big church party!
“This concert experience was totally different because of what we did at church this morning,” said Kailey, a fellow New Hoper who sat (stood dancing) beside me at the Arcade Fire explosion last night. She’s right. It was… for me too. (from John's Blog)
The theatrics were awesome! Two of the musicians were especially furious in their playing: William Butler (keyboards, percussion, and shouting) and Richard Parry (everything). At one point William beats a drum, but actually beats it into a pulp during Power Out – a song about kids reclaiming life after humankind is found to be dead (empty hearts). There’s a physical response, not just words. Actions, not only faith. Régine Chassagne, the female lead singer and multi-instrumentalist does an amazing job flitting around the stage like a pixie or angel or oracle. Her songs are less angry, more desire – singing about Haiti or about how disappointing the suburban sprawl is. Her dancing evokes new life, rebirth, purity.
One of the big highlights for me: Rococo - a song about today’s kids being entranced by emptiness, lavish materialism, and their fake feral nature. (Rococo is an art era marked by meaningless swirls, gaudy decor and French despotic rule that is beheaded decades later for their disregard for real justice) The song on the album almost seems playful, peppy. Live, it is an ominous experience, an angry trudge. Win asks at one point, shouting “What is this horrible song they’re singing?” I had shivers. He’s singing about deception, lies, being duped and he’s genuinely reviled by it.
The string section in Rococo was arranged to sound like mosquitos biting colonial Frenchmen in Haiti.
Another highlight was catching a drumstick that flew out of William's hand as he pounded the tar out of a tom during Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out).
Tim, the main guitarist was in front of us most of the time at the far left. He is probably the least dynamic of the band, but he was rock solid on his instruments.
At one point Win's mic stand fell on the ground, so he got down and kept on singing into it. Gary snapped this great shot of him.
The set list was brilliant. Not one song was out of place.
The Spirit of God was definitely at the show, not only brought by those of us from New Hope Church, but by all of the desires for something more in all the fans. Brought by the thousands of fans who are drawn not by glamour and veneer, but by the gritty chafe against it. Brought by artists who have forged their talents into magnificence. Brought by a God who asks “What are my children doing, letting their hearts fill with nothing? What are my people doing making religion a mockery of justice?”
This is from their Madison Square Gardens show a couple months ago:
Photo Credits go to Gary who brought his camera to the show. Thanks Gary!