Since relocating to New Orleans a few years ago, Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler and his wife Regine Chassagne have treated local fans to a number of memorable shows. Butler is often found spinning late night dance parties around town and last year the band played a secret warehouse show the night before closing out Voodoo Fest with a triumphant confetti-soaked performance. But the band’s show last Tuesday at UNO’s Lakefront Arena was their most spectacular to date, with an immersive stage setup, a surprise appearance from Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and a flawless career-spanning setlist
For this tour the band decided to place a boxing-ring style stage smack in the middle of the arena, a bold move for an arena show where sound can be tricky. As the crowd filled in the floor and lower seats of the arena, a booming voice announced the band’s entrance like they were world heavyweight champions. An extensive camera crew provided up-close shots of the band as they emerged from the tunnel and made their way through the boxing ropes onto the stage. Without even playing a single note, the band had already established their epic vision for the evening.
The show kicked off with “Everything Now,” the title track off their new album, and got the crowd singing along to the chanted outro before shifting into the slinky “Signs of Life.” The crowd erupted when the pulsing intro to “Rebellion (Lies)” kicked in and the shouted chorus was echoed throughout the arena. A smooth segue shifted into the dynamic “Here Comes the Night Time” that allowed the band to show off their true muscle. The comedown from the frenetic “Night Time” was handled by Chassagne as she took over lead vocals for the first of many times with the smooth “Haiti.”
The production value for this tour was intentionally over the top, with two massive disco balls, a huge lighting rig, and customized visual projections for each song. Rather than distracting from the top-notch musicianship on display, the presentation enhanced the overall experience and kept the audience enraptured throughout the entire show. After dedicating the tender “Suburbs” to the recent hurricane victims in Houston and Puerto Rico, Butler led the band through an energetic version “Ready to Start” that sounded much bigger than the studio version. The groove of “Reflektor” kept the energy high, with ghostly images of David Bowie creeping across the screen during the background vocals he recorded with the band.
With the stage enveloped in a thick fog of smoke, the band kicked into new song “Creature Comforts” before an electrifying “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).” The band left the smoke-filled stage for a quick break before emerging with Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a second line intro to “Everything_Now (continued).” Naturally the last song of the night was “Wake Up,” the anthemic battle cry that propelled the band to instant stardom in 2004. The stage was swallowed in sound as the crowd wailed along to the song’s classic intro and sang every word. Refusing to let a good thing end, the band kept the song going as they walked offstage and made their way through the crowd, hugging and thanking fans for making the night one to remember.
Arcade Fire have always been larger than life in their sound and style, and with this tour they have taken that idea to the extreme. The band refuses to sit still as they shift their sound and their continual evolution is a truly magnificent thing to behold. Fans of the band in New Orleans are incredibly lucky to have a front row seat for one of the greatest American rock bands of all time.