Arcade Fire at Target Center
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Astronaut- check, ...Teletubbies, giant bottle of ketchup, fairy princess, Superman, woman in a banana outfit, and a lot of people that were supposedly in formal attire... but just looked like they’d come from a job interview or church, were there too.
They had all heeded the call of the Montreal band’s request to come dressed in costume or formally, for what turned out to be a mostly satisfying, eclectic show at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
The two-hour surreal arena spectacle then began, as a completely mirrored figure walked to the back platform stage, met by The Reflektors, the “fake band” adorned in oversized head masks that included Arcade Fire singer Win Butler, wife Régine Chassagne, and multi-instrumentalist Owen Pallett , who began with a sparse ‘My Body is a Cage’, from 2007’s Neon Bible.
The band, which included conga drummers and a string section, then went through the next several numbers in rapid-fire succession (“C’mon, let’s go!”, Butler shouted), without pause, and with each song smoothly transitioning into the next, images flashing from the disco-mirrored stage onto the multi-hexagonal screens on either side.
"This is the perfect song for the Target Center- it's a song called 'The Suburbs”, the lanky Butler intro’d, catching his breath long enough to briefly address the audience after a half-hour in, and that wasn’t the end of the band’s clever local-centric commentary.
‘We Exist’ was prefaced by an intro from Butler about the song’s inspiration of a gay youth trying to awkwardly have that conversation with his father, and the new classic, ‘Normal Person’ had the entire floor crowd pogoing in unison at the chorus.
Musically overall, the new songs were more robust live, due to the added personnel and energy and the slower songs more soulful in delivery. ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ was the vocal showcase for Chassagne and served as the main set closer.
Lights went down and the bobble-headed Reflektors re-appeared on the B-stage, drumming lethargically to a piped-in ‘When You Were Mine’ by Prince, before Butler stopped them mid-song from the main stage, to don a 4-sided video screened head and lead the full band in a driving, authentically funky version of The Purple One’s ‘Controversy’(The 1981 A-Side to ‘When You Were Mine’s vinyl B-Side). The cubed, illuminated head showed Prince’s own face singing, as well as controversial House Rep Michele Bachmann, in a brilliant piece of satire amidst playing a great cover song.
This segued into a spirited, island-inspired ‘Here Comes the Night Time’ and ended with alt-anthem ‘Wake Up’, from the band’s first album, Funeral.
Like most notable works of art, their evolution is a work-in-progress, which will refine further as the tour progresses. But, on this, only their second night of arena-sized performances, Arcade Fire affirmed their ability to regularly play on a scale this large… and guaranteed good “people-watching” of fans in attendance.
Arcade Fire at Target Center, Minneapolis (08 March 2014)