The show, like therapy with dancing, took place at INmusic in Zagreb, Croatia, with frontman Win Butler paying tribute to David Bowie and dissing Donald Trump
There’s a monument to the late David Bowie at INmusic, the festival held beside the peaceful waters of Lake Jarun on the outskirts of Zagreb, Croatia. Decorated with dazzling pink neon, it’s a replica of the Tesla Tower, the wireless transmission station created in New York at the turn of the 20th Century. The man behind the tower, Nikola Tesla, was an engineer and physicist played by David Bowie in the 2006 film The Prestige. INmusic’s modest recreation, emblazoned with an insistent lightning bolt, like the one Bowie wore as Aladdin Sane, pays homage to inspiration in all fields.
It’s not escaped the attention of singer Win Butler, who helps Arcade Fire to round off the first night at INmusic with stunning headline set, part of which he dedicates Bowie with the words: “We wouldn’t be here without him. I’m sure you wouldn’t be here either.” Like Bowie’s career, Arcade Fire’s evolution is constant, the band pushing forward subtly or in massive leaps with each album. To draw a line under the fact, the set opens with ‘Everything Now’, an ABBA-esque banger that was released just weeks ago.
The show is an onslaught of incredible song upon incredible song, from the punk rock stomp of ‘Month of May’ (the chorus of which multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry bellows through a megaphone) to a curiously sedate rendition of ‘The Suburbs’ that sees Win hunched over the piano to lament the onset of adulthood, via the delirious disco rhythm of ‘Reflektor’ (the recorded version of which boasted guest vocal from Bowie himself). Releasing an album around every four years, Arcade Fire is one of those bands that evokes memories of key points in your life, and so this cathartic performance feels a bit like therapy, only cheaper and with a lot more dancing.
Régine Chassagne, who at one point tonight looks improbably badass while rocking a monochrome keytar, does semaphore dancing in front of a neon background during the acoustic hush of ‘Neon Bible’. Win Butler straddles two synths during the defiant ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ and pirouettes with demented glee while shaking a tambourine to ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels); while Win introduces ‘Windowsill’, which includes the line, “I don’t wanna live in American no more”, after calling out Donald Trump’s presidency as “garbage”. Wildly inspired, this must, surely, be one of the best festival headline performances of the year.