Three years and one new album later, Arcade Fire return to Manchester having officially graduated to stadium band status. Known for their raw and frantic live shows, it’s no wonder there’s an air of excitement circulating the cavernous Manchester Central.
The Montreal 8-piece kick things off with a sucker punch of Ready to Start and Month of May, two of the more adrenaline-laced tracks from new record The Suburbs. Before the crowd realise what’s hit them, they’re transformed into a wave of bouncing bodies. “Manchester, how’ve you been?” exclaims frontman Win Butler, “this was the fastest selling out date of the tour, everywhere else we had to beg them to buy tickets” he laughs, clearly excited to be back. All those worried a bigger venue might dilute the charm of their live performances can relax, it more than survived the transition. The band’s bizarre mix of the wild and intimate is as present as ever. With arrangement shuffles and members seamlessly sharing instruments, it makes you wonder if they’re even aware of the audience’s presence.
Playing a well-mixed set, newer tracks are welcomed with open arms. Rococo sends the crowd into an escalating chant, while The Suburbs is superbly aided by Spike Jonze’s atmospheric video and a mid-song tribute to The Smiths. “Take a shot whenever you hear a riff from a Manchester band that we ripped off,” smiles Win, clearly no stranger to Mancunian music. However, it’s in their untouchable back-catalogue where the show really comes to life. Rebellion (lies) works the audience into such a frenzy; they’re left howling the chorus long after it’s ended, Neon Bible’s Keep The Car Running causes the sea of fans to dance in unison and, closing the show, Wake Up acts as an epic yet bittersweet farewell.