If you’ve ever had a gun pulled on you, then you know the feeling of watching a band like Arcade Fire perform. You’re like a deer in the headlights who can only think about one thing: life. You’re mouth is dry, and moving or speaking coherently is nearly impossible.
Arcade Fire: “Suburbs”
During the aforementioned Montreal-based group’s layover at the Greek Theater in Berkeley a lot of people in the audience undoubtedly experienced said sensations, evidenced by the large number of gaping mouths many in the crowd were sporting. The band played a career spanning set for close to two hours and by the end of the show the collective strength the band displayed was something to truly behold and appreciate.
The visceral power of the band was on display during rousing numbers like “Tunnels,” “Rococo” as well as “Keep the Car Running” and even though there were a few slower tunes like “Ocean of Noise,” there was never a lull in the show when one might be tempted to go grab a beer or head to the lavatories for relief.
As primary singer/songwriter for the group, Win Butler was in command of the stage, but his towering presence (the man’s 6’4’’) by no means inhibited the other members of the band. Whether it was Win’s wife, Régine Chassagne, prancing around or Win’s brother, Will, manically flailing his arms to the music, Arcade Fire proved itself as a band entity that’s not governed with an iron first by any singular member.
The band has been turning heads since it released its first album in 2004 and even though some bands become slightly stale after a few years in the spotlight, Arcade Fire demonstrated an impassioned level of maturity and road-tested stage ability that will no doubt continue to improve with time. Closing out the show with the anathematic song “Wake Up” brought an appropriately epic close to a show that felt somehow intimate, despite the nearly 8,500 capacity of the Greek.
By Justin Gillett & Photos by Eric Lawson