Arcade Fire live review: They finally Wake Up when Here Comes the Night

It takes the setting of the sun for the Canadians’ set to really take off

Artist: Arcade Fire

Venue: Malahide Castle

Date Reviewed: June 14th, 2017

On Wednesday afternoon, people were still desperately trying to shift tickets to Arcade Fire’s gig in Malahide Castle, hinting that maybe the Canadians were past it.

Maybe we have had one uplifting anthem too many from them. Or maybe as a nation we’ve become jaded to outdoor events. Whenever something good comes along, we usually get rained on.

Not tonight. The band enter the stage as strings to the Abba-centric single Everything Now swell. Win Butler rises to the pulpit and tips his wide-rimmed hat to the crowd before launching into a set that serves up more disco fever than indie fare. 

“We f***ing love you, Dublin. Anything you’re gonna give us, we’re gonna give right back,” he roars between Rebellion (Lies) and Haiti from 2004’s Funeral. Here Comes the Night starts with fervour as they twirl around like toddlers finding their groove, but by the time they roll into No Cars Go, the roar fades to a whimper and the crowd are left holding the ooohs and aaahs.

There’s a feeling of fatigue because the evening sun is still so bright – something touring shows often fail to take into account with outdoor events in Ireland – and even though they say that they’re Ready to Start, in reality, they’re slow to get going. Things take a pious turn with Windowsill and Neon Bible – “It’s dark times now and we gotta get organised and stay organised,” says Butler – but the pace rebuilds with The Suburbs, Ready to Start and Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)

As they dedicate Afterlife to Prince, the sun goes down, the industrial smoke machine comes out, and the grounds of Malahide Castle transform into an outer space disco convention. New songs Signs of Life and Creature Comfort get an airing and we finally get the spectacle we’ve been waiting for. 

Washes of blues and greys fill the sky, providing the backdrop that the band deserves for Power Out and Sprawl and knowing that the end is nigh, groups of friends rush to embrace each other for Wake Up, the final song of the night.

In the end, we shake the fatigue and give as good as we get. As the band trundle off stage, just before they dash to Whelan’s for a quick, not-so-secret gig, guitarist Richard Reed Parry leaves a parting shot in a near perfect accent: “Great f***king craic, Dublin.”

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