Arcade Fire are well and truly back. After releasing their comeback single ‘Everything Now’ and showcasing it at a low-key secret show both on Thursday – the band returned to the festival main stage on Saturday night at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival. Here are the big talking points from the show.
1. They don’t care about your fantasy setlists
Long before the band took the stage, the swelling crowd spent much of the buildup chanting ‘Wake Up’s immortal chorus – though probably didn’t expect to hear it until the show was winding down. Wrong. In a throwback to the ‘Funeral’-era setlists, the band chucked it in as a majestic show opener – proving that they’re doing their headline shows whichever way they damn well want. That was further confirmed by the show’s closer too, as the band dig deep into their back-catalogue to finish with ‘Neon Bible’s rarity ‘Windowsill’. Not what you were expecting, huh?
2. Their set design is their most dazzling date
Pitched somewhere between Lorde’s topsy-turvy cube, Phoenix’s dazzling mirror antics and The 1975’s now-iconic tower block structures – the Montreal band debuted their unique light/stage design combo at their comeback show. A large transparent box provides a pounding light show and would often play host to some cosmic 3D video designs, with a bit of help from a giant LED screen behind the box. It’s a far cry from their secret comeback show on Thursday, where they adopted a 360° stage structure, however, it proves that wherever you see them on the ‘Everything Now’ tour, it’s going to blow your little mind.
3. ‘Everything Now’ is already a favourite
The funky, Abba-esque single ‘Everything Now’ was only properly released two days prior – and judging by the ecstatic response, it’s already a hit. The song’s infectious hook is picked up within seconds of the first note being struck and response to fellow new track ‘Creature Comforts’ is equally as pleasing, as the intense synths and brooding beats suck in old fans and new. It’s like we’ve known them all for years.
4. They’re going gimmick-free
Those who went along to the Reflektor tour will no doubt be able to recall the endless gimmicks by the band throughout the carnivalesque live shows. Face paints, dodgy mariachi bands, tie-dye suits and big bobble heads made it a delightful – but often cluttered affair. The ‘Everything Now’ tour, however, appears to have done away with the frivolities for their sleekest and most coherent show in years as the band opt to shut up and play the hits.
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5. They’re officially a greatest hits band – and never sounded so good
Being five albums deep now, the band have opted to trim the fat to go for a breathless all-killer-no-filler setlist. Less popular cuts from ‘Reflektor’ are binned, and the set is anchored around five of the finest tracks from their stunning debut ‘Funeral’, with ‘The Suburbs’ and ‘Neon Bible’ getting a fair look in, too.
It’s not just song choices that they’re nailing – each and every song either matches their current electronic-heavy guise or is revolutionised to seamlessly slip in. Take fan favourite ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’ which is as meaty as its ever sounded, as is the chaotic but kinda-funky-actually main set closer ‘Rebellion’.
They’re well and truly on their way to cementing themselves as one of the most popular and essential bands of the century – and judging by their bombastic comeback – they’re doing it their way.