So here it is almost twenty hours since last night's Arcade Fire show at the Riv ended, and I've still not recovered. Simply put, last night's show was the best night of live music I've experienced this year. Probably in the last three or four years as well, if I were really forced to make that call. I've long suspected it, but seeing them last night cemented it, this is the best live band operating right now. Energy, passion, excitement - this band has each of them in spades. The night kicked off with a sort-of side project, Bell Orchestre, lulling the audience with some beautiful instrumental post-rock that was very reminiscent of another Canadian collective, Do Make Say Think. It was the second opening band, however, that kicked the show into high gear and got the audience fired up. Wolf Parade, with a highly praised debut album fresh out, yelped and tore their way through an exciting set that easily demonstrated what Issac Brock saw in these guys. Particular highlights were "This Heart's On Fire", "You Are A Runner and I Am My Father's Son", and a very lively "Shine A Light". But the high point of the night was yet to come. Well, I should say "highlights" since it would be damn near impossible to narrow it down to just one.
After a reasonable set-break, the Arcade Fire took to the stage accompanied by a wild roar from the sold out crowd. Everyone got settled in and Win strapped on the acoustic for a short section of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" that segued into an awesome "Wake Up". And from that point on the band didn't let up one bit. They tore through the majority of Funeral, picking up a pair from the self-titled EP and a fantastic rendition of Bowie's "Five Years" along the way. The crowd was way into it the whole way through - singing, dancing, and shouting along with the band as they worked up to and through a wild version of "Rebellion (Lies)" before taking a very short encore break. Barely two minutes passed before the band was back out on stage and dipping into "No Cars Go" and letting Regine lead us through a beautiful "In the Backseat" to end the set. After the encore, the band climbed off the stage and walked through the audience to set up in the lobby for a rendition of "Queen Bitch" sans mics and amps as the audience filed out. I'd like to tell you some more about that, but we were stuck in the throng and didn't get to hear much of it at all.
Like I said, it would be impossible to pick one particular highlight of the evening so I'm not even going to try. Hopefully its enough for me to just say that it was the most thrilling night of live music I can remember and that the Fire lives up to every single ounce of praise. If you haven't been captured by the magic yet, go see them live and you will be.
For those keeping score, here's the setlist:
Wake Up (with Dylan's "A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall" acoustic intro)
Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
Headlights Looked Like Diamonds
I'm Sleeping in a Submarine
5 Years (Bowie cover)
Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)
Crown of Love
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
No Cars Go
In the Backseat
Also, be sure to click on the "Five Years" link above so you can check out a live version from Austin earlier in the week.