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Live Review: Arcade Fire

KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky

March 6, 2014

By Abbie Doyle, Copy Editor

When Arcade Fire announced it would be touring North America for its latest album, Reflektor, I knew I was going to go. There was no question about it; I’d been in love with the band for three years; Neon Bible is part of the fabric of my soul. Their lyrics and music have meant more to me than almost any other artist I listen to, but I’d never seen them live! Sure, you can sit in your room or drive in your car and scream along to a record and adore the band with every fiber of your being, but seeing a band perform live is a very important part of that relationship.

I’d preordered Reflektor and had access to pre-sale tickets. Literally minutes after the pre-sale became available I had tickets to see them in Columbus, and shortly after that I had tickets to see them in Louisville as well. The Louisville date was the first show of the North American tour and happened to fall on spring break, which was pretty handy for me because I hail from Cincinnati, merely two hours from Louisville.

For months I waited. I bought holographic boots for the shows, since “formal attire/costume” was very strongly encouraged by the band. This demand pissed off a lot of people (“Gol dang self-obsessed hipsters are trying to tell me how to dress after I buy a ticket to see their show? Kiss off!”) but I didn’t have a problem with it. The band wanted to make the show an event, a time to celebrate and remember, so getting dressed up seemed fitting.

And let me tell you, the audience looked fine as hell. Win Butler told us, “You look fucking beautiful.” And he meant it. It meant so much to the band that a majority of the audience had dressed up, making the night an occasion. Arcade Fire never waltzes on stage in jeans and t-shirts; they always look great and like they’re ready to party, which is exactly what they did.

But let me back up and get the most important piece of information out of the way: I shook Win Butler’s hand the other night. The members of Arcade Fire interacted with guests at the entrances before the show began, wearing their enormous Reflektor heads and greeting guests. Right off the bat they were friendly and appreciative of our presence; fans adore the band, but Arcade Fire adores its fans as well. There was a steady stream of love in that handshake, I tell you.

It was a beautiful night. I didn’t see a single person who looked unhappy to be there. Ages ranged from eight-year-olds to 60-year-olds; there was a dad in front of me who sang along and waved his arms to every song. Even people who don’t care for Arcade Fire have to admit the band is doing something right--its music reaches a lot of people in some deep places.

They did a lot of things right that night. Win made an appropriate amount of fun of the KFC Yum! Center and its name; there were two stages set up so opening acts Kid Koala and Dan Deacon could have their own space; Arcade Fire’s stage was dynamic (with many reflective surfaces for optimal lighting) and open, giving the audience a clear view of the band.

The setlist varied between “DANCE LIKE CRAZY” and “Nod and sing along.” The crowd went bonkers for “Reflektor,” “Power Out,” “Keep the Car Running,” “Haiti” and “Tunnels.” Some songs got a much less enthusiastic response, such as “Joan of Arc,” which is probably one of Arcade Fire’s worst songs. Maybe after seeing the audience’s very subdued reaction Arcade Fire will cut the song from further sets. I for one would not be bummed if they kept it out of the Columbus show.

There was some hokey-ness I could have done without; Arcade Fire waved goodbye after performing “It’s Never Over,” followed by “Sprawl II,” and everyone knew they’d be back so we stayed put. Then, on the stage where the opening acts performed, the Reflektors appeared and began to play a song called “Selector.” While this was happening, Arcade Fire got back on their stage and Win said to the imposters, “We’re gone for three minutes and you steal the show? Get out of here!” It was rather unnecessary; everyone was confused and just wanted to hear more of Arcade Fire, not have to deal with the silly stage antics.

They made up for it with the encore, however. The encore wasn’t just one or two songs; it was around seven, one of which was a cover ofThe Rolling Stones' “The Last Time,” which was absolutely phenomenal. The performance of “Here Comes the Night Time” was one of the best parts of the show, as was “Rebellion.” The encore was undoubtedly the best part of the show. Other than shaking Win Butler’s hand, of course, and seeing the perfection that is Arcade Fire with my own eyes. I can’t wait to do it again in one month, 22 days and three hours. But who’s counting?

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