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Arcade Fire, dance and epic

La Vanguardia La Vanguardia 30/05/2014 Ramon Súrio

Last night, Canadian band Arcade Fire were the first big headliner of the Primavera Sound. The current sextet led by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne premiered their fourth record, Reflektor, and were joined by seven other musicians on stage. And from the very first bars they clearly showed their newly acquired taste for new wave and danceable sounds, not relinquishing their epic grandiosity.

The reflected lights from the stage glass lightened the mysterious “Flashbulb Eyes”, bordered by the metallic sound of the steel drum, played by Régine in the first approach to her Haitian roots.

Their set list was packed with songs from their first album, Funeral, where we find “Rebellion (lies)”, another emotional blow with a crescendo underscored by the violins and the brass section. After such a bold start, it was time to bring the melodrama back, and in order to do so there is nothing better than “Joan of Arc”, just before they uncorked the material of their previous record with “Rococo”, a song that prepared the audience for the moment in which Win Butler sat at the keyboards to perform the moving pop caresses with a certain swing feel to them that were both parts of “The Suburbs”, illustrated with grainy images of home made films. The dance and the epic re-emerged with “Ready to start”, anchored in a robust bass line and with Régine at the drums. It was the best way to introduce the emblematic “Neighborhood # 1 (Tunnels)”, swollen with orchestral sounding keyboards and infallible backing vocals, and “Neighborhood # 2 (Laika)”, propelled by its funk rhythm and Régine’s accordion, that turned out to be one of the most celebrated songs in a memorable evening.

Keeping their foot on the pedal, they once more took a turn to pay an explicit tribute to disco music with “Weexist”, a true journey back to the 70’s with a sticky sound dominated by the keyboards and a pronounced sense of humor reflected on the images projected on the screen, full of huge woodcutter-looking guys dancing like they were at Studio 54. In the middle of this dance madness, time had come to play “Afterlife”, one of the best cuts in their new record.

The climax started with what has become a tradition in this tour; playing specific covers for each place they visit, although here they just played a previously recorded rumba version of “Tequila” through the speakers, although it was not the Los Amaya take of the song. It played just when half a dozen “cabezudos” (carnival figures with a large head) appeared on stage, including one portraying the Pope. It was all almost as shocking as the punk sound of “Normal Person”, a prelude to the confetti and xylophone carnival that became “Here comes the night time” right before they said goodbye with the emblematic “Wake up”, an apotheosis in which the audience carried them all out by multiplying its exultant "Oh, oh, oh, ohs" choruses.

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