Arcade Fire headlined the Pyramid Stage on the first night of Glastonbury tonight (June 28), bringing fireworks to what frontman Win Butler described as one of “the most incredible” of all the “unbelievable” things that have happened to the band in their career.
The band arrived onstage accompanied by a performer in a mirrored suit, and there appeared to be a technical fault as the intro music stuttered. A firework display was then set off as the band kicked off with 2013 single ‘Reflektor.’ This was then followed by ‘Flashbulb Eyes’, also from the band’s 2013 album ‘Reflektor’, and ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’ and ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ in succession.
“We’re so happy to be here at Glastonbury,” said Win Butler onstage. Fans let off red and blue flares throughout the performance, with Butler telling the crowd: “Thank you for the flares, I hope you don’t get arrested.” Elsewhere, Butler asked fans if they liked the eye mask he had painted on. When the question was greeted by a cheer, Butler replied: “Me too.”
Singer Owen Pallett joined the band before ‘The Suburbs’, while Régine Chassange put on a sequined gold eye-mask for ‘Joan Of Arc.’ The final passage of ‘The Suburbs’ was performed acapella by the audience while ‘We Exist’ saw the band joined by a troupe of dancers, including a number of performers in drag.
‘Keep The Car Running’ concluded with a single firework shot high into the sky above the audience before a rendition of ‘No Cars Go’, which came complete with a psychedelic synthesiser solo from Will Butler and military-like drumming from Jeremy Gara.
Shortly afterwards, Régine Chassagne took centre stage for two songs. Making her way to the catwalk-like runway jutting out from the main stage, she performed both ‘It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)’ and ‘Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’. The latter ended the first part of the two-hour set with Chassange twirling multi-coloured ribbons around her head.
Before Arcade Fire could get back for their encore, they were beaten to the stage by the papier-mache headed fake band, who have followed them on their current world tour. The giant-headed gang danced to snippets of songs by Pulp, The Verve and Jay-Z as well as Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall.’ The real Arcade Fire eventually interrupted and began to play ‘Normal Person’ and ‘Here Comes The Night Time.’
The set concluded with a rendition of ‘Wake Up’ which saw Butler throw his microphone into the audience for fans to finish singing the song themselves.
Fans expecting a special guest were left disappointed by a Tweet sent by Lorde during Arcade Fire’s performance in which she hinted she was scheduled to join the Canadian band on stage. Though not booked to perform at all across the weekend, the singer wrote: “Pulling out of Glastonbury in the name of family time was a tough decision but oh boy I am not jealous of that mud.”
Arcade Fire played: ‘Reflektor’, ‘Flashbulb Eyes’, ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’, ‘Rebellion (Lies)’, ‘Joan Of Arc’, ‘The Suburbs’, ‘Ready To Start’, ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’, ‘We Exist’, ‘My Body is A Cage’, ‘Keep The Car Running’, ‘No Cars Go’, ‘Afterlife’, ‘It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)’, ‘Sprawl 2 (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’, ‘Normal Person’, ‘Here Comes The Night Time’ and ‘Wake Up’.
Next up for the Canadians: a blockbuster date at London’s Hyde Park on July 3. The show was subject to confusion today, after an apparent clerical error made tickets available for just £2.50 on the official website of ticket agency AXS. It now appears the ticket sales will be honoured despite the mistake. The question is: can the band top their Glastonbury performance?
Check out our interview with Arcade Fire moments before heading onstage to headline Glastonbury and keep tuned to NME.com for all the weekend’s highlights from Glastonbury.