September 13, 2017

Arcade Fire played Madison Square Garden

For the first time in their career, Arcade Fire delivered an album that was met with harsh reviews from both fans and critics alike. Luckily, their current tour proves that they're still one of the best live bands in the world.

How do you react when one of the most beloved and treasured bands of the last decade finally makes a bad album? For years, Arcade Fire have captured the feelings of youth and have been a band that has more or less defined a generation. The millennial indie band to rule them all. Like Pink Floyd, U2, and Radiohead before them, Arcade Fire have risen from humble beginnings to the status of legends over the course of albums that are innovative and transformative. Now, just like those other bands, Arcade Fire have found themselves at a crossroad with their fans. Everything Now, their fifth record, washes clean all that fans had come to admire from their benevolent band, trading in the baroque-pop of Funeral and Neon Bible and the post-punk glimmers of The Suburbs and Reflektor for a disco-lite, disappointment of a record. Still, like those before them, Arcade Fire are in their finest element while on stage and their Infinite Content tour finds them in their brightest moment. Placing themselves in the round, the band unloaded their momentous tracks to roaring applause. Even the new tracks seemed to shine a little brighter on stage, but the band never hesitated to rely on their old hits to satisfy the crowd. In fact, as the night progressed, it became more and more impressive as to how many smash hits the group actually has in their repertoire. Carefully placing songs from across their catalog throughout the show, the band never ceased to amaze and more importantly, they never seemed to have a dull moment. Watching the band escalate from church halls, to landmark theaters, to arenas, and festival headliners, their passion and engagement has actually seemed to grow over time. This set at MSG felt more intimate than their residency at Judson Memorial Church over a decade ago and the overall joy across their faces was remarkable. It was invigorating, powerful, and opulent to see a band so energized by their music and the response of such a massive audience. Their stage show transformed the Garden into a disco ball as colors and beams of light seemed to explode from every corner of the stage once again highlighting the monstrous transformation this band has undergone during their sensational existence. The emotional weight of their songs felt ever apparent as well and really heightened the tone of the show. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" was a massive rush of feelings that harkened back to more innocent times and was a strong reminder of the bands humble beginnings, but "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" felt more forceful and full of determination than any past showing. Win dedicated "The Suburbs" to his hometown of Houston for one of the more somber moments of the evening, but of course, the band was still able to turn the night into a celebration. Regine's dazzling "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" has been a rapturous hit since the days of The Suburbs and tonight felt even more alive and saw one of the biggest reactions of the night. Of course, nothing can ever really compete with their now legendary closing number "Wake Up." Years later, it's hard to think of a bigger anthem that can surge through an arena and generate the kind of response this song has been receiving for the past decade. For anyone who ever had an emotional attachment to this band, there is nothing that competes with hearing this song live. The ability it has to overtake not just the band, but their crowd as well, speaks volumes to the impact they've had not only to young millennials, but music lovers of all ages. It's quite unlike anything else I've ever seen and even after the house lights go on and the crowd starts to stagger home, the "whoa oh" chorus lingers on through the halls and into the streets creating a moment that seems to last forever. If that's not infinite content, then I'm not sure what is.

Set list:

01 "Everything Now"
02 "Signs of Life"
03 "Rebellion (Lies)"
04 "Here Comes the Night Time"
05 "Haïti"
06 "No Cars Go"
07 "Electric Blue"
08 "Put Your Money on Me"
09 "Neon Bible"
10 "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)"
11 "The Suburbs"
12 "The Suburbs (Continued)"
13 "Ready to Start"
14 "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"
15 "Reflektor"
16 "Afterlife"
17 "Infinite Content"
18 "Creature Comfort"
19 "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"
20 "We Don’t Deserve Love
21 "Everything Now (Continued)"
22 "Wake Up"

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