Thursday, September 4, 2014

Article Of Faith: Arcade Fire at the Santa Barbara Bowl

04 AUGUST, 2014
Win Butler is The Reflektor
Regine pops up in the center of the Bowl
When the books are closed on the current Santa Barbara Bowl season, retrospective conversations will definitely involve the appearance of Arcade Fire, on the home stretch of their almost year-long Reflektor tour. From humble beginnings,  we caught a stripped-down, ragged but right Halloween show at the Palladium in Hollywood last year that was among the first live performances of Reflektor material, with none of the attendant pomp and circumstance that would characterize this show. The raw passion of Arcade Fire in performance remains undimmed, and no matter how over the top their set pieces can be, (March of the Bobbleheads, giant mirrored thing, etc), they still find a way to connect. Opening duties for the evening fell to Canadian virtuoso Owen Pallett, who reappeared as a valuable part of the Arcade Fire touring act. Holding down the middle, and setting the tone for what was to come: Baltimore's own party-starter extraordinaire: Dan Deacon, whom I didn't think existed in the daylight hours, but he held his own, and managed to get the crowd involved with his hyper charm.
As the formal Reflektor production took shape, regional specific cover choices became a trend, ranging wildly in taste, but we hit the goldmine as they led off with the Dead Kennedys "California Uber Alles", using it as a statement of intent, energy wise, and never really looked back. Amount of attention to Reflektor tunes has varied throughout the tour, but here we got the bulk of the LP, with 4 of the first 6 songs hailing from it, and the tour-polished takes were a far cry from what we heard last October. The Dead Kennedys cover and an incendiary take on Funeral's "Neighborhood #3: Power Out" broke up the run. Much of the attention focused on the set pieces, such as "It's Never Over", featuring Regine Chassigner popping up in the middle of the audience to do a call and response with a still-stage bound Win Butler. The power of Arcade Fire truly showed in the simplest of moments, with Regine's spotlight moment during "Sprawl II" and the band's closing tradition of "Wake Up" showing the unbreakable bond with the audience.
On this night, Arcade Fire was a band on a mission, and having seen them many times since the days of Funeral, I'll happily say that this was their most powerful, fully sustained show to date. With a recent hometown appearance at Pop Montreal officially finishing the tour, hopefully they're all off to a well earned rest.

Win heists a cellphone from the audience



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