Music review: Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire performing at Edinburgh's Corn Exchange as part of Everything Now Campaign - 08/06/2017 - Pic By: Calum Buchan Photography
Arcade Fire performing at Edinburgh's Corn Exchange as part of Everything Now Campaign - 08/06/2017 - Pic By: Calum Buchan Photography
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There are not many bands who can set spirits a-flutter with anagrams, but Montreal’s Arcade Fire have been stoking anticipation of their new album, Everything Now, by teasing scrambled song titles on Twitter. With the release of their fifth album a matter of weeks away, it was now time to spread the word non-cryptically from Scunthorpe to Slateford, with a handful of intimate (by their festival-headlining standards) concerts.

Corn Exchange, Edinburgh

****

In a nod to their usual arena environment, they broke up the oblong dimensions of the Corn Exchange to perform in the round, with the crowd clustered around them – all the better to commune with the band on an acoustic busker rendition of their most anthemic number, Wake Up, before they launched into the show proper with the Everything Now’s irresistible disco-flavoured title track, an ode to impatience which was as ecstatically greeted as any old favourite.

The club party continued with an immaculately funky new track Signs Of Life, Regine Chassagne’s bittersweet paean to her homeland Haiti, and the propulsive punk-funk carnival feel of Here Comes The Night Time, setting the tone for a gig which made up in loose informality, blithe fun and natural momentum what it sorely lacked in sound definition.

There was barely a moment to draw breath before they unleashed the urgent Rebellion (Lies), every contour of its melody admirably augmented by the crowd. Arcade Fire have all the best wordless chants and the gusto with which they were taken up throughout the show only confirmed how much their celebratory catharsis has been missed.

Unlike the feelgood vacuity of the likes of Coldplay, there was meat and dynamism at the heart of this set. The softer tones of Neon Bible and the quiet storm of Suburban War contrasted with the punky maelstrom of Month of May, the kind of song which could start a riot, before it was time to strap the dancing shoes back on for Reflektor and its hi-energy bridge into Afterlife, a New Order number by any other name.

There was one further opportunity to drink in new material when the supremely catchy electro pop jabber of Creature Comforts dovetailed into a chunky, electrified Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out).

“This is about as good as it gets for us,” declared frontman Win Butler, before the most sophisticated jug band in town conga’d off the stage to set up in a corner of the venue bar and continue the fiesta unamplified.