Friday, February 8, 2008

Reasons to Believe

Live: The Arcade Fire
Namba Hatch, Osaka

As they confront through their art the burdens of modern life - fear, responsibility, the fragility of love - Arcade Fire remind us that there are reasons to believe.

It’s not so much what they say as the way they say it – with a big shouty "YES!" teetering precariously on the edge between joy and hysteria. It's their raging desire to offer salvation from the modern nightmare which explains why they have managed to forge an almost evangelical bond with their audience.

Try as you might to withstand their melodrama, Arcade Fire’s immense, ambitious sound - featuring a whirlwind of mandolins, violins, organs, horns, sirens and hurdy-gurdys - has an unstoppable forward motion which delivers a joyful catharsis. As I discovered last night, resistance is futile.

The band begin their set with a haunting, restrained version of Neon Bible before shifting into top gear with the propulsive Black Mirror.

Then comes the epic tragedy of Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) mourning those "names we used to know." It's followed by the fatalistic and heartbreaking Intervention: “every spark of friendship and love will die without a home.” Yet somehow - as in the irresistible singalong choruses of Rebellion (Lies) and Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) - the message remains one of hope.

It’s a rousing, committed performance, the musicianship never less than superb and the band’s legendary showmanship very much in evidence.

Having said that, sometimes less is more and it comes as a mighty relief when Arcade Fire allow their music to breathe on slower numbers like the wisely sad Ocean of Noise: “All the reasons I gave/Were just lies to buy myself some time."

The emotional honesty is compelling, inspiring a deep sense of liberation. I exit the auditorium and fade back into the neon cityscape, feeling only connection and compassion, those remarkable songs of hope and survival echoing in my mind.


Cushion Meg said...

Their music is intriguing!! Shiffi, I’d like to know, in last passage, what you feel connection with and compassion for.

Shiffi Le Soy said...


Cushion Meg said...

A perfect answer! but like a Zen dialogue. :D