There sure was a cold wind blowing though Dusseldorf last night, and with it came buckets of snow, and massive anticipation for the Arcade Fire concert in the Philipshalle. The initial disappointment their tour didn’t stop in Holland made way for a nice little city trip to the Christmas markets of Dusseldorf, where I stood drinking glühwein in the snow, playing Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) in my mind on repeat: “And if the snow buries my, my neighborhood..”

When the time came and the small community that is Arcade Fire took to the stage to loud cheers, they opened with the Suburbs tune that was made for the part: Ready To Start. The simple drum beat and driving guitar were the perfect match to the crowd’s excitement, the mood was set for the night. They held on to the electric vibe with a solid 4-piece opening combo, threading together Keep The Car Running, Neighborhood #2 (Laika) and No Cars Go. “Women and children, let’s go!!”.

Then some time to calm down a bit with the ever charming Regine taking central stage for Haiti and Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). She seemed in very good spirits, doing her characteristic little rhythmic moves and even picking up some colourful ribbons for her dance routine. It’s during these songs, when I’m not bouncing around as much, that I notice how incredibly talented and multi-instrumental all the band members are.

Next up, the one song from The Suburbs I was most anxious to see: the ambitious Rococo. This song is the ideal setting for Win’s dark doomsday approach, “they build it up just to burn it back down”, perfectly accompanied by the eerie violin sounds and hushed “rococo-rococo-rococo” background vocals of the band members. What a pleasure to hear it played live! Win has really come into his own as a lead singer, carrying it off with great confidence. Here is a little youtube snippet.

Then a complete surprise, as mentioned in the opening sentence of this post: Cold Wind. This song won me over when I first heard it on the soundtrack of arguably the best tv series ever made, Six Feet Under, but I never heard it live before. Win mentioned they hadn’t played it for quite some time. Sadly I have to say it didn’t really live up to its haunting potential with a few hiccups during the song, but still a welcome surprise.

After a sizeable Suburbs middle section with Deep Blue, the uplifting romp along of The Suburbs with The Suburbs (continued) as outro and the frenetic rock out of Month Of May they carefully crafted another 4-part section to leave every single audience member begging for more.

Personal favourite and Funeral classic Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) kicked it off, moving on to We Used To Wait which had Win jumping up on the monitors belting out “Hear my voice screaming sing the chorus again!”. Next up was Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), where Win left out a complete section of the song to thank a guy who stood up way in the back seats. He must have been delighted with himself. Power Out finally merged directly into to crowd favourite Rebellion (Lies), “Everytime you close your eyes, lies lies!”, a great set closer.

I was really hoping that some of the gems of Neon Bible would feature in the encore, but only Intervention was played, followed by the ultimate Arcade Fire live anthem Wake Up. O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied? Where was Black Wave/ Bad Vibrations? Where was (Antichrist Television Blues)? Where was Black Mirror? Oh well, I guess it would take playing all three albums entirely for me to be fully satisfied.

I think it’s fair to say Arcade Fire  is a band that has grown and matured over the last few years. The show might be less explosive than it used to be with band members constantly running around the stage banging drums, but that has made space for beautifully crafted songs, a confident band with mesmerising stage presence and a catalogue of songs that would each do well on stage. Their shows are an absolute treat, and if you haven’t seen them live yet I would urge you to do so!

SETLIST

01 Ready to Start
02 Keep the Car Running
03 Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
04 No Cars Go
05 Haiti
06 Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
07 Rococo
08 Cold Wind
09 Deep Blue
10 The Suburbs
11 The Suburbs (continued)
12 Month of May
13 Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
14 We Used to Wait
15 Neighborhood #3 (Power out) [extended version merging into 16]
16 Rebellion (Lies)

ENCORE
17 Intervention
18 Wake Up

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