Between the click of the light and the start of the dream.

As any Arcade Fire stan knows, seeing the Montreal-based act in the flesh with your own eyes and vehement beating heart is normally an experience verging on the spiritual. York Hall, however, was something particularly special.

I once flew 600 miles to see them in Spain, Primavera back in 2014 and here I was seeing them by the gym a 10-minute walk at the end of my road in a ridiculously small venue by their standards. The point of this is a) yes to demonstrate an awful smugness of how lucky I was to be present last night, but mostly importantly b) the acolyte nature of Arcade Fire fans and the lengths they'll (or in this case, we'll) go to see them.

York Hall by Bethnal Green tube normally operates as a boxing ring - a capacity of roughly 1000; and they borrowed the idea of a boxing ring set-up by placing their stage slapbang in the middle of the venue (as they had done at their Scunthorpe show) - the actual stage cast aside as a poky place for the sound desk and roadies. What this achieved, and achieved beautifully, was it made an already intimate gig even more intimate; intimacy squared. An "intimate gig" is one of the most overused phrase in terms of live music, but I will fight anyone who could not describe this as anything else.

"Everything Now" banners hang from all around the narrow top seated tier of the venue and it is this new track that began the night, once the lengthy queue down Cambridge Heath Road had subsided and everyone made it in. And also once a saxophone rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner was played by a man on stage, to a smattering of not necessary boos.

I have seldom seen a new track ('Everything Now') by any act so warmly embraced by a crowd, and rarely has a new track sounded so fleshed-out, so confident, and so... darn memorable. Abba tracks played through the speakers prior to AF walking on stage, and the tight disco vibes of 'Everything Now' as mentioned frequently is very Abba-esque. Despite 13 years of Arcade Fire being in my life, it is this this track that bounces and repeats in my head the next day, and I can only assume ad infinitum/until death.

No horns or brass were present and thus a more electronic vibe is on offer - and a statement of sorts in regards to the direction of their upcoming album. Tracks from all four previous albums get an airing alongside the new track as mentioned and fellow future fifth album numbers 'Signs of Life' and 'Creature Comfort'. Plus a brand new never-been-released track titled 'Chemistry' - a brooding, swaggering slowjam of sorts as Win Butler croons "you and me got chemistry".

The seven members move around to different parts of the stage to try/swap various instruments so each person in the audience get to see their heroes. William Butler gave every thrash of percussion, every smash of the keyboard, every inch of his life and lived every single sweaty second. And yes it was so so sweaty in York Hall, friends. Regine as always is a sheer delight, exuding an intrinsic warmth while doing a tour of the stage and working the crowd in certain songs.

Arcade Fire have always had a way with succinct sloganeering in their lyrics, often in a bittersweet, euphoric-yet-introverted way. The David Byrne via Jenny Holzer effect if you will. The pay off in a live setting is of course tremendous, with everyone in the room yelling these hooks to the ceiling, to the band, to their partner, to their friend, to a stranger, or to no-one at all. The sense of togetherness is really something else; I actually talked to some strangers out of choice, and I generally hate people. The togetherness between band and audience was also powerful .. heightened by the fact AF had to walk through the audience just to get on that middle stage.

From the tears of 'Afterlife', the nostalgia of 'Tunnels' (a track that held that bizarre feat of feeling nostalgic even at the time of its release, an ode to lost youth, least alone listening to it 13 years later), the sheer danceability of 'Here Comes The Nighttime', and the I-am-out-of-superlatives-I-think-I-died experience of final track 'Wake Up'; it was everything you would expect from an Arcade Fire show of this size and so much more. Quite rare to go in with extraordinarily high expectations and to have those surpassed. Hold me.

Everything Now is out July 28th on Sony.


Everything Now
Here Comes The Nighttime
Signs of Life
No Cars Go
We Used to Wait
Neon Bible
Ready To Start
Sprawl 2
Creature Comfort
Power Out
Wake Up