Band appeared in masks under their The Reflektors pseudonym at London's Roundhouse venue
Arcade Fire last night (November 11) played their first UK show in the guise of The Reflektors, the pseudonym under which they’ve been performing gigs to promote their new album of the same name.
The show took place at London’s Roundhouse, where they’re set to perform again tonight. The Camden venue was decked out with silver streamers and a giant disco ball for the occasion.
Appearing on stage at 8.45pm, frontman Win Butler and his brother Will began the performance wearing paper bag-style, tiger-print masks covering their faces as singer Regine Chassagne danced robotically. Afterwards, Win Butler thanked the crowd for coming before introducing “an Arcade Fire song”, maintaining the pretence that this was a separate entity. They then played a highly energetic performance of ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’ from 2005’s debut album ‘Funeral’, during which Will Butler’s hands wheeled around on the keyboard.
The more minimal, bass heavy ‘Flashbulb Eyes’ followed, on a darker stage, then the beat-driven ‘Joan Of Arc’, both from ‘Reflektor’. Afterwards, Win Butler addressed the fact that the audience had, at fairly short notice, been told that “formal wear or fancy dress” was mandatory for the performance. In response, the crowd was full of people in suits, dinner jackets, masks and even full costume, despite some grumbling on Twitter earlier in the day. “To anyone who felt uncomfortable dressing up – I’m not sorry,” said Butler. “At least 70 percent of you are getting laid tonight… As long as you showered. That’s the secret. Boys.”
After ‘You Already Know’, Butler earnestly thanked the crowd for giving the band their second Number One album, following 2010’s ‘The Suburbs’. “It feels really crazy for us to have the Number One album in the UK, even if just for a week,” he said. “For at least a week, the world can seem like an OK place.” He went on to express gratitude for the way the UK has embraced the band from the very beginning.
After ‘We Exist’ got the crowd dancing, they played ‘It’s Never Over’ and begun ‘Afterlife’ with some a capella lines from ‘My Body Is A Cage’ from 2007’s ‘Neon Bible’ album. The crowd cheered loudly as Regine Chassagne took centre stage for the performance of ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) that followed, during which she danced with ribbons.
“We’re The Reflektors. That’s a fake name. We’re a fake band,” Win Butler told the crowd before playing a seemingly improvised song including the lines “People from art school playing in a fake band/people from art school pretending to play guitar“. During a spoken word portion, he talked about being jet lagged and having a nightmare in which he told confessed, “Tell dad I stole the keys to the car when I was 15. It wasn’t Will, it was me.” The song segued into ‘Normal Person’.
Sign up for the newsletter
Win Butler then donned the large papier machet head for a cover of Devo’s ‘Uncontrollable Urge’, during which he went into the crowd, stuck his middle finger up and appeared, at one point, to slip off stage, quickly regaining composure. ‘Here Comes The Night Time’ and a cloud of ticker tape ended the main set.
Returning for the encore, Butler drew attention to the images of Haiti that surrounded the auditorium, pointing out the band’s long history with the Caribbean country where Chassagne grew up. “So, you know, ‘cultural tourism’ kiss my ass,” he said. ‘Haiti’ was dedicated to the country, and ‘Crown Of Love’ closed the show.
Arcade Fire played:
‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’
‘Joan Of Arc’
‘You Already Know’
‘It’s Never Over’
‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’
‘Here Comes The Night Time’
‘Crown Of Love’