Arcade Fire Unleash ‘The Suburbs’ At Oxegen – New Songs Reviewed

Live Review – Arcade Fire
Oxegen Festival, Punchestown, Ireland, July 9

It’s been three long years since Montreal’s Arcade Fire last played at Oxegen. Back then the band were buzzing off becoming a household name in Ireland thanks to the success of their second record ‘Neon Bible’, and their rich and grandiose clatter was adored by the masses.

Sadly though, like a one-night stand who didn’t call you back, they seemingly abandoned the country as they toured the rest of the world and then started work on their third effort ‘The Suburbs’, due for release in August.

Tonight’s show is momentous, since it’s a chance for us to acquaint ourselves with their latest outsider anthems before everyone else hears them. And secondly, it’s an opportunity to see if the band can out-do their previous two albums.

Opening with ‘Keep The Car Running’, Arcade Fire waste little time blazing through their hurdy gurdy-laced laments and twisted lullabies. As expected, the set is laden with new songs and tunes such as ‘Ready To Start’ are received religiously by the acolytes down the front. It has a relentless, stomping, Cure-esque rhythm as Win sings “Businessmen they drink my blood/Like the kids in art school said they would.” Clearly success hasn’t mellowed him too much then.

Better yet is the drunken sea shanty that is ‘Rococo.’ Sparse and skeletal in arrangement, Win’s voice fills in the gaps perfectly as he repeatedly croons the song’s title in staccato fashion. Once the rest of the world hears it, no doubt it’ll tattoo itself on our collective brains in no time.

Other new tracks such as the fast-paced, punk-tinged stomp that is ‘Month Of May’ prove that the band have learnt some new sonic tricks, and the swaggering, synthy ‘We Used To Wait’ is vintage Arcade Fire and is a homage to the long lost art of writing love letters. “It seems strange/ How we used to wait for letters to arrive/But what’s stranger still/ Is how something so small can keep you alive”, muses the singer.

Normally when a band opt to play so much new material, it can be a bit overwhelming for a crowd, but it hasn’t fazed Oxegen too much. Though Arcade Fire draw a smaller crowd than fellow headliners Eminem and Muse, the fans that do show up are passionate – they seem to know some of the songs already thanks to the bootlegs that are currently floating around cyber-space.

As the band sign off with the much more familiar ‘Wake Up,’ there’s a bloke in a Batman suit beside us throwing up all over his bits and pieces and not even that can stop the track from making every single thing in this field seem brain-fryingly beautiful. Welcome back, folks.