It was supposed to be about Barack Obama. And ostensibly it was. Campaigners milled around the front of the Beachland last night before the Arcade Fire’s
free show in support of the Democratic presidential nominee. Kids with clipboards, buttons, and forms hit up folks as they walked into the Ballroom. And loud, obnoxious guys in suits yelled political slogans (“We want change!”) as 500 fans waited an hour or so for the band to play. It was about Obama, but everyone – except for a couple of loud, obnoxious guys in suits – was there for Arcade Fire. ...
And even though last night’s Arcade Fire was a bit smaller than the usual Arcade Fire – core members Win and William Butler, Régine Chassagne, Jeremy Gara, and Sarah Neufeld were all there; a few members stayed home in Montreal – they played an hour-long set that was every bit as intense as a full-band show. While some of the group’s big-ass instruments were sorta missed, there were enough sax, hurdy gurdy, and megaphone breaks to fill in the spaces.
Frontman Win Butler said a few obligatory words about today’s election, but he mostly let the music do the talking. The three cover songs all tied into the reason he and his bandmates were there: David Bowie’s “Heroes” (which opened the show), John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth,” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” (which closed the show).
In between, the stripped-down group played a handful of cuts from its two albums, Funeral and Neon Bible – including stirring versions of “Intervention,” “Wake Up,” and “Rebellion (Lies).” Who knows whether or not the show served its purpose of getting people out to tell other people to vote for Obama today. It certainly got us wishing Arcade Fire didn’t skip Cleveland on their last tour. -- Michael Gallucci