Arcade Fire - Hyde Park, London 30/06/11
Words from Lindsay Allan
Hyde Park, on a rare summers day, ready and waiting for one of the best live bands to date, Arcade Fire. With a fantastic array of support artists, this was set to be any music lovers dream, but as I was soon to discover, there was a great lack of music fans here tonight. Muted sound and crowd chatter made it incredibly hard to hear the acts on stage. I want to be positive about what should have been an amazing gig, but unfortunately, it left me feeling void of that post-gig elation that I should have had.
The brilliant collection of supports were Owen Pallet, The Vaccines, Beruit, and Mumford and Sons. Owen being on early enough to avoid most of the problems, playing a very short set - but I knew he'd probably be returning later to play with Arcade Fire having composed the orchestral scores across their albums. The Vaccines and Mumford and Sons managed to pick up a bit of a singalong, but nowhere near to the extent that I'd expected. The vast majority of the crowd seemed disinterested, shoving their way in and out of the crowd in none-stop conversation. I even moved several times during the evening in attempts to find better sound and a better crowd. Beruit were worse hit - the only band of the lineup I'd not seen before and therefore most excited to see. But I simply couldn't hear them over the talking of the crowd.
So finally it was Arcade Fire time, one of the best live acts that I have ever seen, the band everyone was here to see, surely they crowd would actually watch them?
Nope. None stop taking throughout the entire set. With such a muted sound, and London scenesters yelling about their work and love lives to each other, it was difficult at times to even work out what song was being played, despite being between the stage and the sound desk. It was like I was in a pub, and there was some local band playing in the corner that no one cared for. Amongst the talking, people were playing drinking games, arguing, taking photos of themselves - no one was watching the show that they'd all paid £50 to see. I’ve never been in such a horrendous crowd.
Opening with 'Ready to Start, Arcade Fire put on a terrific performance. My only criticism is that I thought they played 'Wake Up' far too early into their set. They claimed it was so they could see everyone whilst it was still light, but with people still arriving and the crowd not quite warmed up, the moment was a little ruined. But from the grins on their faces, and the adoration's of love towards to crowd from Win Butler, Arcade Fire showed at least they, were having the time of their lives.
Their set focused on Funeral and The Suburbs, with just a couple of songs appearing from Neon Bible. I do think things picked up a little from 'Month of May', with Owen Pallet joining the band onstage, and following song 'Rebellion (Lies)' leaving the crowd, (or those that were bothering to watch) continuing the 'ooohs' long after the band had finished playing.
Personal favourite of mine 'Power Out' was played with such reckoning force that it was one of the few songs I could hear clearly, as the band headed off-stage for the encore. Returning back on stage to play the likes of ‘Keep the Car Running’, ‘Tunnels’, though I found it an odd choice that they decided to end their set with ‘Sprawl II’.
For Arcade Fire, this show, their biggest in the UK, was nothing but a success. They proved they can play the bigger venues, and they could headline a festival with ease (Glasto 2013 anyone?). But as a fan, I can't help but feel the 'Who the Fuck are Arcade Fire' jokes around their Grammy/Brit award winning success had come full circle. People may now know them, but it felt like they were ‘scene’ band of the moment. I just wish I could have something more positive to say about this gig. But for me, the audience truly spoilt the whole experience.
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