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Updated: Arcade Fire @ Massey Hall Tuesday


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The show was fantastic from top to bottom. Easily in my Top 10 concerts ever. The sold-out crowd packing Massey Hall was enthralled and really energetic and loud for the 90 minute set complete with two honestly earned encores. I may write a real review of tonight's gig tomorrow, but for now, Arcade Fire are a tough act to beat in concert or even on record.

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hey jaimoe, after win called everyone down to the front and to use up the aisles, i ended up about 7 people to your left.. fuck that was a great show.

never seen massey hall like that, EVER! no one sat the entire show, and it was probably the most diverse crowd i've seen, everyone loving everything. incredible.

the only thing that ate me up was how, to start both encores, they had the crowd in the palms of their hands with so much energy, but they came out with mellower tunes - the rocker in me wanted them to use us up till we were spent, but oh well. ocean of noise was brilliant.

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At the pulpit of the Arcade Fire

May 16, 2007 04:30 AM

Ben Rayner

Pop Music Critic

One doesn't necessarily want to lend religious portent to the Arcade Fire's music, but the band seems cool with it, so what the hell?

Yesterday evening was the perfect backdrop to the Montreal ensemble's explosive set at Massey Hall, for the first of two consecutive dates in the venue this week. Jerry Falwell dropped dead, then the very moment I stepped outside to head to the show a massive bolt of lightning tore open the sky, thunder peeled mightily and, I swear, 200 gallons of water washed over me in the space of two minutes. At the streetcar stop, a girl quipped that we'd all be "catching an ark" to come home.

The band couldn't have orchestrated it any better, really. After suffering through the typhoon outside, most of the 3,500 in attendance at the gig – which ran with the apocalyptic themes of the Arcade Fire's new hit disc, Neon Bible, in set list, churchy stage dressing and tape of a wheezy fire and brimstone rant from a southern preacherette as introduction – were at least contemplating the fate of the planet, if not their mortal souls.

On record, looming front man Win Butler's lyrical probings of mortality and spirituality don't always rise to the zealous gusto of their surrounding arrangements. On stage, though, it wouldn't really matter what the Arcade Fire – although thank god it's lovely sentiments about digging tunnels to your sweetie's place and not "Pour Some Sugar on Me" – has to say because the words are often shouted at you by with ecstatic conviction by Butler, his boundlessly energetic wife Regine Chassagne and another eight people and supported by a poreless wall of sound that only keeps crescendoing as the 90-minute show wears on.

If the group has taken anything from church, it's that big, enveloping music is the path to a transcendental experience. And, as usual, the band left few gaps in the sound, miking the drumkit loud enough to level walls and piling on as many voices and instruments as possible – violin, viola, hurdy-gurdy, French horn, bass saxophone, pipe organ (the last was simulated, I think) – to bring epically brooding new numbers such as "Black Mirror," "Antichrist Television Blues," "No Cars Go" and the heart-bursting Springsteen homage "Keep the Car Running" to life on a more immodest scale than that of the widescreen recordings on Neon Bible.

Impossibly, too, things were wratcheted up to an even more pummelling level when "Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)" bled into "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)" in a searing fit of pure, white noise and percussive cacophony.

Besides a slight tendency to pretension, this go-for-the-throat aesthetic – thrilling though it is – constitutes perhaps the Arcade Fire's only flaw. Song by song, it gets genuinely exhausting in a confined space and one finds oneself longing for another shift to quiet in the vein of Neon Bible's haunting title track. During a couple of the numbers from the new record that mildly slowed the middle of the set, "big" briefly even became "dull."

That's a pretty small complaint, though, to level at a band currently completely entitled to its place on the top of the world.

Massey Hall, Toronto - May 15, 2007


TORONTO - To say there was anticipation about The Arcade Fire's arrival in Toronto last night for the first of two sold-out shows at Massey Hall is a bit of an understatement.

Tickets for the Montreal indie outfit's appearances were snapped up in minutes and judging from the audience's feverish enthusiasm last night, the chamber-pop-punk band could have stayed all week.

Frontman Win Butler sensed the excitement in the room and encouraged people to immediately gather at the front of the stage opposite his group of noisy, shouting, merry music-makers, whose numbers swelled to 10 last night with horns, strings, bullhorn and church organ all present and accounted for.

"We're very happy to be here," said Butler, who underwent sinus surgery last month, leading the group to cancel their European tour.

Essentially, Butler -- a Texas native -- and his Haitian-born, Montreal-raised wife, singer and multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne, anchor the group, but there is a feeling of happy anarchy as the couple and many of their fellow musicians spend the night running around trying out different instruments.

They opened strongly and dramatically with Black Mirror, Keep the Car Running, Antichrist Television Blues and No Cars Go, all from their sophomore album, Neon Bible, whose title was reflected in both the set design and multi-media show.

Before The Arcade Fire even walked on stage, film of a televangelist played on two round video screens that would later broadcast images of individual band members singing and playing their instruments.

Red neon, meanwhile, was also prominent in the Bible imagery and various lighting standards decorating the stage.

It was a striking scene, as the band's infectious enthusiasm and obvious passion for their music inspired the audience to either clap, sing or both.

Chassagne, in particular, was a riveting stage presence as she performed some intrepretive dance moves while taking over lead vocals on Haiti, from The Arcade Fire's first album, Funeral, and later during the show-closer In the Backseat.

Over the course of the 90-minute set the band's first record was also respresented by such upbeat fan favourites as Neighborhood #2 (Laika), Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Rebellion (Lies) and Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), which were matched in energy and intensity by the Neon Bible tune The Well And the Lighthouse.

If there was one major criticism, Neon Bible's darker and more downbeat fare like Intervention, the title track, My Body Is A Cage, Windowsill, and Ocean Of Noise didn't produce the same sparks in a live setting as they do on the record.

4.5 / 5

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I have to say this show really blew me away...as others have said, they really had Massey Hall up and dancing from the beginning...I found myself shouting out the lyrics along with the rest of the band/crowd (and if you knew me you would know that this is really out of character). I remember making a comment to my wife, that hopefully they play a slow one soon, because I can't take this intenstity much longer...

Really loved the posters they were selling (the Canada 2007 ones). Anybody get an extra they want to sell? Fat chance I know, but I didn't bring any cash and my tickets did not have in/out privilages...

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