Arcade Fire / The Reflektors - Barrowland, Glasgow, Fri 15 Nov 2013
Stunning carnivalesque event that transcends gig
It’s the worst kept secret in indie rock that The Reflektors are actually the alter ego of Montreal’s Arcade Fire. But this barely veiled mystery helps hype the anticipation: we know this won’t be your average Arcade Fire performance. Each ticket has ‘Formal Attire or Costume Mandatory’ printed across it. At least three quarters of the audience have complied with the dress code, from full fancy dress to dinner jackets or feather boas matched with cocktail dresses. And while it feels alien standing in the Barrowlands dressed to the nines, it adds to the sense of occasion. As do the high school prom-style decorations: tinsel, fairy lights, posters and glitter festoon the venue. There’s an otherworldly quality to proceedings: surrounded by a sea of weird and wonderful masks and attire, it feels like an event, not just a gig.
The venue is plunged into darkness. When the lights go on the band are already on stage, resplendent in their costumes. Win Butler sports a mirrored face mask and full mariachi outfit. They immediately tear into ‘Reflektor’, and its pounding rhythms are instantly taken up by the audience. Tonight’s intimate soirée is ostensibly a showcase for their new album, also called Reflektor. Produced by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, unsurprisingly it’s more beat-driven and has a dancier edge. It makes even more sense live than on record. ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)’ in particular match the energy levels of the surging crowd. The folky elements have been jettisoned in favour of pulsing rhythms and dub reggae. The carnival vibes even bleed into their older material: ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ is reworked as a steel drum remix; Régine Chassagne does her customary rhythmic ribbon dance during ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ – the result is strangely beautiful and utterly mesmerising.
The build-up and quirks of tonight’s gig mean there’s an unbeatable party atmosphere, with Butler enthusiastically praising the crowd and their costumes in gushing tones on several occasions. There are giant papier mâché heads, group dance routines and a Devo cover (‘Uncontrollable Urge’), then there’s a moment during their final song, ‘Wake Up’, as everyone in the Barras sings along, where Arcade Fire prove the power of music. It transcends simply being a gig and transforms into a shared experience, a brief magical moment where audience and band become one. Simply stunning.
'Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)'
'Joan of Arc'
'You Already Know'
'It's Never Over (Hey Orpheus)'
'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)'
'Here Comes the Night Time'