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Live Review: Arcade Fire - LG Arena, Birmingham - 8/12/2010

'The Suburbs' has ended up on so many best of 2010 lists and yet this show isn't sold out? Arcade Fire's short, 6 date stint of the UK following their Leeds & Reading appearences has been eventful to say the very least, a couple of nights beforehand, they played Dublin and were supported by none other than Vampire Weekend who, sadly, aren't on tonight. The venue is packed with a range of different ages and the only real question on my mind is why aren't there more people here? The crowd was varied and it was so inspiring to see how one band can affect so many people of different ages. I was speaking to so many people who had come all the way from York, Liverpool and France just to see this band. Parents who had dragged their kids, heck, there was even a six year old there dancing his little socks off. It was heartwarming to say the least.

The band opened up with 'Ready to Start', the first chorus of which was just a huge singalong for the crowd. William Butler, Win Butler's younger brother, was going absolutely mental and at some point he was hitting the side of a floor tom just to get a noise out of it. From watching live videos of Leeds festival, I was hesitant about hearing Régine sing live but she completely overwhelmed me, I would happily say she was the best part of the night and she was so charismatic and pitch perfect, especially during 'Sprawl II', she grabbed a couple of streamers and just started dancing with them. 'Haiti' was a personal highlight for me, the backdrop changed to a photo of a beach which fit the song perfectly and the crowd was still singing the melody long after the song had finished.

Régine took over for 3 songs before Win led the band in 'Rococo', a slow ballad where the band had a brief moment to catch their breathe before the energetic last chorus. During 'My Body is a Cage', the band moved in sync with each other and Régine even looked like a robot hitting her floor tom in perfect time with the rest of the band, the song exploded during the last few minutes of the song and completely overwhelmed each individual audience member. 'Month of May' was perhaps the most intense moment of the gig, everyone in the crowd was shouting the lyrics at each other, whilst you could see Win's veins bursting from his neck on the big screen, giving it everything he possibly could.

The opening to 'Neighborhood #1' started out faint an could barely be heard whilst Win acknowledged the massive amount of snow the UK has recently had and mentioned how he wrote the song when he was 20 years old about the snow. Jeremy Gara's kick drum exploded and the band burst into the song, the crowd shouting every word at the top of their lungs. Win left his guitar on the side for the piano-based 'We Used to Wait' which demonstrated his perfect ability to be a charming and charismatic front man, casually walking around the stage as well as the front barrier and singing to the audience.

The band left the stage and everyone was screaming for more, it was obvious they were coming back for more as they had omitted some fan favourites, everyone in the crowd was trying to guess what was going to be played and songs such as; 'Modern Man', 'Neon Bible' and 'Black Mirror' were all being shouted, the crowd was kept in suspense as video footage of roads was being played on the monitor whilst the band were stood completely still. 'Keep the Car Running' was met with mixed appraisal from the audience, It wasn't until the opening two bars of 'Wake Up' where the crowd actually went mental and rushed to the stage. As soon as everything kicked in. Everyone on both sides of the seating area was stood up, even the people at the back, they might as well have bought standing tickets because everyone in the seating area was jumping about and screaming.

After seeing Arcade Fire live my perception of them has changed a lot. I don't see them as a band, I see them more as innovators who are trying to break themselves away from conventional music. The band write songs that people can relate aged 5 to 75 and not care about disposable things such as fashion and fame. I would even go as far in saying that Win Butler is perhaps the last great rock star.

George Gadd

Alter The Press!