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Arcade Fire: Was Glastonbury 2014 The Show Of Their Lives?

By Greg Cochrane

Greg Cochrane on Google+

Posted on 28 Jun 14

Arcade Fire: Was Glastonbury 2014 The Show Of Their Lives?

In the end it went against a lot of what everyone was expecting. On almost every date of Arcade Fire's mammoth Reflektor world tour they've collaborated with a guest. They've covered songs with a local resonance - in the UK, for example, most recently in London, tackling Echo & The Bunnymen and The Smiths. But not tonight. There was no David Bowie (hopeful), no James Murphy (expected?), no The Wurzels (at the very least!). Eschewing those add-ons, it was all about shining the spotlight on their own powerful abilities. In the run-up to Friday at Glastonbury, frontman Win Butler spoke about the "cultural significance" of Glastonbury and remarked, as a foreign onlooker, on some of his favourite shows from the past, like Pulp. But he was here to prove it was the Montreal band's time. While the 'dancefloor' - the Pyramid Stage's mud-slicked amphitheatre - wasn't in the greatest shape (owing to a torrential downpour earlier), it didn't prevent 50,000 people getting their shuffle on. Of their two hour set, here are five of the standout moments:

When they opened with 'Reflektor'…

Starting a set as significant as this with a track as incredible as 'Reflektor' is either highly cocky or brilliantly confident. We'll go for the latter. As with their recent arena dates the show started with a bombastic intro-tape - which unfortunately crackled with sound problems - and a figure dressed in a disco-ball suit on stage. And then… thwack! The opening march of 'Reflektor' and a shower of fireworks criss-crossing above the Pyramid Stage's famous peak. Immediately Worthy Farm was transformed into a Studio 54-style sweatbox. Régine Chassagne resplendent in a cloak. Win Butler in his now familiar Beetlejuice get-up and racoon paint. The tempo of the night was already set to groovy.

The older material sounding bigger than ever

The set they've created is envious - a lucky-dip of alt-rock gems drawn at will. 'Neighbourhood (Power Out)' was detonated as the third song. 'Rebellion (Lies)', 'The Suburbs', 'Keep The Car Running', No Cars Go' and 'Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains') all sounded enormous.


Win Butler's heartfelt message…

Arcade Fire don't do half-arsed shows. Their standards are so consistently high, it's hard to tell when they're having a truly exceptional night. "This is one the most incredible things to happen to our band" said Win Butler towards the end, with his hand on his chest. Hear, hear.

The bit where the Bobbleheads danced to a Jay Z and Oasis mash-up…

Arcade Fire like to shake things up. In the short break between leaving the stage and returning for the encore the Arcade Fire papier mâché Bobbleheads arrived on stage. Our disco-ball host then got behind the laptop and cut together musical highlights from previous Glastonbury alumni like Pulp, Oasis, Chemical Brothers, Beyoncé and Jay Z. Win Butler interrupted them - apologised to the audience - and then led the band into the exceptional 'Normal Person'. The juddering riff of the chorus sounded like a thunder clap.

The final sing-along to 'Wake Up'…

By the conclusion of the set Win Butler didn't want to leave. Stood atop a white plinth on the front of the Pyramid stage, his bandmates already exited, he led the whole crowd in a chorus of "wooaaaahhhh." With that, he threw the microphone deep into the crowd and left. Arcade Fire, triumphant.


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