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The debut album from Canadian facet Arcade Fire, Funeral, was released 14 years ago and instantly became a classic. Prismatic harmonies and wildly outfitted vocal arrangements pushed the band to the very forefront of indie-rock that saturated the early aughts; “Wake Up” was a galvanizing and sweeping anthem while “Rebellion (Lies)” kept this momentum going but was more agile and danceable in nature. Their follow up to Funeral, 2007’s Neon Bible, switched up their lauded formula and heightened their levels of both intimacy and experimentation. “Keep The Car Running” is the audible equivalent of loneliness festering and the title track is as restless and murky as the project itself. 2010’s The Suburbs felt revenant and revolutionary with its not so subtle attacks on capitalism, war and classism.
Three years later, Reflektor received the same critical acclaim as the rest of the albums in Arcade Fire’s discography and last year they released Everything Now (which became their third US number one album). They revitalized the success of that record with the Everything Now Continued tour that started earlier this month and made a stop at Boston’s Blue Hills Bank Pavilion this past Wednesday (July 18th). Just like all five of their albums, a performance by Arcade Fire is full of juxtapositions. They are dazzling yet exhausting, beautiful yet brooding, plain yet grandiose. From the very beginning of their set, every inch of the stage was saturated with an array of band members playing an array of instruments without it feeling cluttered or bombastic–it just felt whole. It was invigorating to see them all hit the ground running. “Wake Up” was a spare and vicious opener and was quickly followed by “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).”
Win Butler’s savvy stylistic blend of stoic frontman with avant-garde emotionalism kept concert-goers on edge the entire evening. He was unnerving during “Rococo” and willingly stepped aside to let fellow vocalist and wife Régine Chassagne stand front and center during “Electric Blue.” His visceral appeal returned for “Put Your Money On Me,” “My Body Is a Cage” and “We Used to Wait.” But his vigor took flight on “Ready to Start” and soared the rest of evening as he made his way off stage and into the audience to serenade us. “Rebellion (Lies)” was the final song of Arcade Fire’s set and was enthralling and electrifying as Butler himself and served as a reminder for why fans come out in droves to see them: to simply feel alive.