Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles
October 8, 2010
You know you’ve had a good day when you wake up in a resort in Palm Springs and end up almost 24 hours later face down, literally face down, in a plate of tacos in downtown LA, head throbbing and ears ringing. There’s no way to rationalise it, nor the fact that between such decadent highs and lows, Webcuts was in attendance to witness the second night of Arcade Fire’s two night stand at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. On a night where the streets (well, one street) were filled with yellow NYC cabs and fake snow, Arcade Fire required no illusory set-dressing to impress Tinseltown.
Three albums into their career, The Suburbs found Arcade Fire looking within, its scope a reflection on nostalgia and identity, its content presented with the same energy and musicality that elevated their debut Funeral into the mainstream. The response has been uniform worldwide, of widespread acclaim riding on a tide of sold-out shows. The roof-lifting roar when the band walked on stage was expected but still something to behold, with the energy given out by the crowd at times swamping the band’s own performance. If not for an absence of sermonizing from Win Butler, who barely addresses the crowd all evening, a religious experience opportunity is avoided. Rock n’ roll minus the excess it is then.
Sprinting through the first handful of songs, Arcade Fire approached openers “Ready To Start”, “Keep The Car Running” and “No Cars Go” as if they were lighting fireworks, each one more dazzling than the last. A rare outing of “In The Backseat” provided one of the highlights for the evening, a hushed quiet lending to a spellbinding, scene-stealing moment by Regine Chassagne. Each of Chassagne’s solo moments scattered throughout the set (“Haiti”, “Backseat”, “Sprawl II”) worked to provide a soft counterpoint to the wrought Springsteen-esque observations and locomotions of her husband (“Modern Man” sounding as equally trite live as it does on record). Weighting the finale of set with Funeral-heavy material allowed the band to waltz to the finish line in style.
Seated venues being an anathema to the enjoyment of live music, a swift security dodge from the back of the venue (thank you Merge for the lovely seats…) to the front of the stage for the encore was a necessary but worthwhile gamble. Here, the atmosphere was more intense, faces in rapture, the octet now working like gears of a clock, slowly winding up momentum, from “Intervention” into “Wake Up”, as its big hand spilled from the clock face into the adoring crowd, every inch of his body soaked in sweat, like a victor coming home with the spoils from a war that us kids won.