You know that person you meet at parties sometimes? Elusive, mysterious, desirable – but seemingly a bit miserable? Equal parts tortured? Talks a lot about “suffering for their art”?
The musical equivalent of this person is Arcade Fire. Well, at least they used to be. They’re a shadow of their former gloomy tunes selves as they step out at Malahide Castle, practically bouncing with every step to new track Everything Now.
It’s 80s, it’s Bowie, it’s Dancing Queen, albeit with a more peppery chorus. It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. It’s day-glo leisure wear, it’s hijnx, it’s high kicks.
“We should just do the whole tour here,” Win Butler tells an equally energised crowd.
All the performances are well put together – unsurprising, what with a new album ‘Everything Now’ on the way. It wouldn’t have done well to not come out all guns blazing.
Even for the more somber performances, the pace is tenacious – the glint in Butler’s eye is visible to the most far away eye as he chirps the chorus of The Suburbs.
Arcade Fire are a long time at this, but the near constant writing, recording and touring schedule has not seen their joints rust. Transitions are seamless – Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels), in particular, brings the most unexpected immediacy; a rush of jovial colour and spark.
It’s a steady build of momentum. It’s a sign that they’re seasoned performers. It’s an obvious encore, but it’s the unsuspecting tour de force of emotive sound that delivers the suckerpunch.
New track Creature Comfort nestles nicely in to their vast collection of songs. Lyrically, it splinters – “God, make me famous / If you can’t just make it painless / Just make it painless” – but sonically, it’s a technicolour cartwheel. If Everything Now left people cold, this certainly won’t.
Sprawl II is a magnetic synth show, interconnecting the band and fans with Régine Chassagne sprightly vocals. She’s a lively one, that Régine – at one point weaving her way through the photographers in the pit in her typically jocund manner.
Floods of dry ice match a murky sky, as they rip into Wake Up for their swan song, in which the Canadian troupe circumnavigate the hearts of all attending at Malahide Castle. A mix of new and old – however, it’s the same old fire (sorry) under their feet which allows them to deliver performances as world class as this.