Gig Review: Arcade Fire, MEN Arena, Manchester, October 27, 2007

The Arcade Fire setlist, Manchester, October 27 2007On a good night, the Arcade Fire live are the sound of unmitigated joy. Last night, the Arcade Fire had a good night. I hate the arena, but for 90 minutes on a gloomy Saturday night, the Arcade Fire made the Manchester Evening News Arena the best venue in Manchester, if not the world. From the opening notes of “Black Mirror,” to the final, electrifying moments of “Wake Up, ” even though the crowd around me were somewhat subdued, we just knew that the Arcade Fire were on form, and it was a form that nobody else on earth can match.

Watching the Arcade Fire when they play like they did last night is one of the biggest pleasures life holds. On stage, they are a wall of energy, spitting all their angst and anger at the world, all their fear and insecurities out through their instruments, but it comes out as celebratory. They seem to need to be on stage, venting through their music, but the smiles on their faces, the energy and the enthusiasm that radiates from the stage could bring a great swell of exultation to anyone.

It only took as much as the second song, “Keep the Car Running,” to get me bouncing, completely enraptured and convinced this would be one of the gigs of 2007. Throughout the gig I was amazed at the lack of cheer radiating from the people around me because the band themselves could not have been any more dedicated and involved in their own performance. Watching them was completely mesmerising. Regine in particular had a giant smile on her face, and she kept coming out towards our side of the stage, smiling, shouting the lyrics and encouraging us to dance.

Arcade Fire @ MEN Arena, ManchesterCertainly one of the highlights of the set included “Haiti” with her vocals, which gets better every time I see it live and had some of the maddest drumming ever to grace a stage. Her Funeral duo of lead vocals bookended a rare outing for “I’m Sleeping In A Submarine” from their debut EP. “In the Backseat,” which we haven’t seen live since 2005, was absolutely flawless and completely mesmerising. She has toned down her self-conscious dancing since we first saw them, and tonight contented herself with the odd arm gesture, waving a tambourine around (when she wasn’t playing one of four or five other instruments or singing), and exhorting the crowd towards where we were standing to sing and clap along, like a tiny ball of candy-coated flame.

She had rivals for her level of energy though as Will Butler was moving around so fast he was practically a blur throughout the gig, whether smashing a drum like his life depended on it, pounding away on the keyboards or holding a guitar. Win Butler, for his part, was singing like he’d die if he didn’t, but in between songs he was chatty and all warm smiles, exuding pleasure at being on stage and grateful to the 14,000 members of the audience for being part of what he said was the Arcade Fire’s biggest indoor gig to date.

After Regine’s chilling moment, “Windowsill” briefly brought the tone back to celebratory, despite its somewhat dark theme. It’s like getting the negatives out is in itself the ultimate expression of hope to this band, and watching them you can’t help but become part of it. “Ocean of Noise” positively gave me chills, and by the time they reached “Tunnels” I think I had reached nirvana, jumping up and down and singing along. The Arcade Fire on stage in Manchester, October 2007“The Well and the Lighthouse” was fantastic but then they did a cover of “Still Ill” in honour of the Smiths inspiring Win Butler, and his health problems over the last year. It was not the best cover version I’ve ever heard, in fact it was slightly shambolic, but you’d be hard pressed to match them for intensity and intent.

The final two tracks of the main set, “Power Out” which segued into “Rebellion (Lies)” prompted some serious dancing as the band looked ready to explode as they thrashed away on their instruments, barely disappearing before the encore of “Intervention” and “Wake Up,” which I still consider the best live song in the history of music – tonight’s rendition not disappointing at all – before disappearing frighteningly early, leaving us panting for more and hoping the next album is not another 2 years away.

I dread arena tours. I dread seeing bands in venues this size and I always worry about the atmosphere and the view. While the crowd were wishy-washy and uninvolved where we were stood, the Arcade Fire are a band that can make up for a lacklustre crowd with their own enjoyment of the performance and this alone carried them through the gig tonight, appreciative and wonderous at their ability to vent their demons through their instruments and come away feeling drunk with the power of their own expression. It is something which only the very hard-hearted could watch and not find moving and uplifting, and it reinforced my assertion that nobody, past or present, can surpass the Arcade Fire on a night like this.

The Arcade Fire – I’m Sleeping in a Submarine
The Arcade Fire – In the Backseat

Video – The Arcade Fire perform “Still Ill” in Manchester

29 Responses to “Gig Review: Arcade Fire, MEN Arena, Manchester, October 27, 2007”

  • beth Says:


    I was full of trepidition – but we came away smiling alright!(and we were in the seats, way up high)

  • JustHipper Says:

    Excellent. It looked like everyone was standing in the seats, which makes for a change! I was so proud of Win telling everyone to stand up. Seated gigs are vile.

  • Dave Says:

    I’d never been to a seated gig before and was slightly concerned it would affect my enjoyment. However, i barely even noticed i had a seat as i was stood the whole way through. This was easily the best gig i’ve been to and i emplore everyone to see arcade fire live- no other band compares!

  • suzanne Says:

    This was the second time that we have seen this band this year but last night was the first indoor experience, we had seats but that was fine, the sound was amazing and the projected live visuals that they use are perfect. This band consist of some of the most talented people around today. Very up lifting, honest and a bloody good night out.

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  • Nessie Says:

    We were completely mesmerized; they were incredible. At one point, Regine seemed to be singing just for us- it was mind blowing. The most surreal moment was coming outside and hearing hundreds of people singing ‘Wake up’ across Manchester.

  • Clare Says:

    Was slightly worried about seeing AF in a big arena, especially as our tickets were seated, but spent the whole gig on my feet – dancing, singing myself hoarse. The best band in the world!

  • Olly Says:

    Good review, it was the first time I’ve seen AF and it was an incredible night, will never forget singing along to wake up with 14,000 people at the end.

  • Kevin Says:

    It takes one hell of a band to make me attend arena gigs these days and I was not disappointed. From start to finish the Fire burnt bright, with their energetic and positive performance.

    I must echo the original comments about some of the crowd being lack lustre; we spent large chunks of the gig being sidestepped by people going to and from the bar.

  • JustHipper Says:

    The number of gigs at that Arena that I’ve seen from the seats with no atmosphere where standing got you shouted at…it’s great to find a band that can fill the place and make it intimate and can get people up out of those hard, plastic chairs. It’s very heartening to hear everybody saying there was atmosphere at the back and distance didn’t kill the mood.

  • digill Says:

    totally agree am still singing (and dancing) and buzzin from this gig – i am a serious live music goer and the Arcade Fire were wonderful – I was on my own -didn’t really matter but would have been nice to share my euphoria butstill the big guy next to me managed to tap his arm while i was jumping up and down beside him. Quite easily the best and liveliest gig this year -and Yes they talk to us yipee!! thank you for a great night all xx

  • Matthew Says:

    You jammy bastards. I saw them on Friday in Glasgow and the only tickets I could get were for seating way off to one side. This meant I ended up watching a similarly excellent performance but from so far away and such an odd angle that it took half the gig for their energy to seep as far as us at the back. We were all dancing on the seats by the end too though.

  • John Says:

    Having been voted one of the best live acts in the world ever recently, it was hard not to build up unrealistic expectations for the performance. I needn’t have worried. It’s the first time I’ve seen them, and having been seated up with the gods when the Beastie Boys came to the arena, I made sure I got a standing ticket. Since I was quite near the front the crowd were pretty animated which added to the experience. Easily the best gig I’ve been to ever.

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