By Anita Stewart, Journalist and Chyrisse Tabone, Photography–Rock At Night Tampa
Venue: USF Sundome, Tampa, Florida–September 22, 2017
Florida has been waiting for years for Arcade Fire to play here and they delivered an amazing show that was so worth waiting for on Friday, September 22nd, 2017! Disappointingly, it was not a full house or a sold out show, perhaps because of Hurricane Irma that we experienced here earlier this month. The band is made up of multi-instrumentalists and all share credits for songwriting; this band has also been given kudos by David Byrne (Talking Heads) and David Bowie, just to name a few. They have transformed over the past sixteen or so years to be a major force on the music scene.
The band is comprised of the core group of brothers Win and Will Butler, Win’s wife, Regine Chassagne, Tim Kingsbury, Richard Reed Parry, Jeremy Gara and Sara Neufeld and they all met at different times while studying and hanging out near McGill and Concordia Universities in Montreal starting around 2001. The band is legendary for relentless touring, huge stadium shows, passionate performances, ornate productions and are favorite headliners for the festival circuit all around the world.
The Butler brothers originally hail from Houston and come from a rich musical heritage; their mother Liza is a jazz harpist from the King Family Show, their grandmother, Luise was a singer on the same show and their grandfather was the big band leader and steel guitarist, Alvino Rey.
This show was part of the Florida leg of the “Everything Now” tour, a very significant meme that begs reflection of a dystopian, “end of the world” view of corporatism and how it is destroying our culture. Branding is corporate with “Everything Now” logos on their clothing and flashed from the marquees, on their instruments, on their social networks and in their videos. The video for the title song of the album shows a desert wasteland in a Mad Max kind of world with crumbling vehicles, launching missiles and deserted towns, electric towers and power lines and chemtrails criss-crossing the sky. Throughout the video, the logo is featured everywhere. Yes, this is political and it is sending a message; the band gets it and wondering how many of their fans actually do.
Interesting that this new collection of songs, their fifth studio offering has been called a “concept album” and has really taken some lackluster hits from music reviewers. What was very cool was anyone who paid for a concert ticket got a copy of the CD, so we at Rock at Night have been listening to the album for several months now and we have found it to be fresh, new and innovative.
The band entered the Sun Dome‘s ground level audience area from a side entrance and walked through the crowd as they were announced like prize fighters being introduced before a main event match in the ring; of course with more corporate references. The stage was set with ropes like a boxing ring and the band played in the round shifting positions and changing instruments so everyone could see them close up at different times. A huge screen was above the stage, giving the artists close ups throughout the show and telling the story of “Everything Now” until almost the very end of the show when visions of the branding get ignited and are incinerated right before the song “Creature Comfort.”
As this writer’s favorite Canadian band, I have always marveled at how each member of the band can flip to other instruments between songs and play all of them effortlessly. Indeed, their band members play in addition to the usual guitars, bass, keyboards and drums: hurdy-gurdys, accordions, violins, violas, cellos, mandolins, glockenspiels, xylophones, keytars, clarinets, flutes, French horns, tympani, steel drums and other acoustic instruments. Regine Chassagne even graced the audience by playing spoons and bottles for a beautiful and poignant performance of “We Don’t Deserve Love,” as part of the encore.
Impossible to type into a genre, Arcade Fire’s music is structured very similarly to classical music with a full fledged orchestra and choir, yet synth influences from 70’s and 80’s music abound in this collection of songs. We heard some interesting chords and changes that reminded us of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and shades of Abba, Flock of Seagulls and many more. Sometimes strains of alt-country were bleeding through, understandable because of the the Butlers’ Texas origins.
Crowd sing-alongs, chanting and dancing were part of the show. Some of the highlights included: Regine dancing through the ground level crowd during “Reflektor,” Win in the crowd during “We Don’t Deserve Love” while Regine played the bottles and spoons (noted above), “Electric Blue,” “Ocean of Noise” with haunting and undulating mages of waves and water on the huge screen above the stage, “Everything Now,” “Ready to Start” and “Wake Up” as epic rock anthems and rallying cries, “No Cars Go,” “Keep the Car Running” and Jeremy Gara (on the drum kit most of the time) with his engaging smile throughout the show! Especially haunting was the performance of “Neon Bible” and Win’s chants about survival and “Put Your Money on Me” and the images of numbers and legal tender on the wide screen above.
Win also gave a political shout out to the restoration of voting rights for offenders here in Florida. There was an after-party and political gathering with members of the band at the local watering hole, the Crowbar for a “Disco Town Hall.” All the band members also give a lot of their time and effort to help the people of Haiti through an organization called KANPE. Regine’s family escaped Haiti during the Duvalier dictatorship so this is a cause that is close to her heart. Yes. There is a message here. Members of Arcade Fire are engaged and encouraging others to do the same.
Don’t miss this tour–this is the show to see during the last half of 2017!
Signs of Life
Here Comes the Night Time
Keep the Car Running
No Cars Go
Put Your Money on Me
Ocean of Noise
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
The Suburbs (Continued)
Ready to Start
Sprawl #2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
We Don’t Deserve Love
Everything Now (Outro)
Opening band, Wolf Parade Returns to the Music Scene to Deliver their Canadian Music to enthusiastic fans!
Wolf Parade opened the show to enthusiastic fans and to promote their new album “Cry, Cry, Cry” for next month’s release. Also hailing from Montreal but originally from British Columbia, they are an indie rock band. They took a hiatus in 2011 and reformed and started playing again in January 2016. Lots of enthusiastic fans were in the Sun Dome to check them out. Their tour includes dates in the US until November when they head to Europe. Melodic post punk revival kind of music, check out their site for the upcoming tour dates.