Seven Reflections On The Arcade Fire Show In Nashville

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

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# 1

I saw Jesus at the Arcade Fire show last night. So did Win Butler. As the already epic show entered encore mode, the “Neon Bible” singer introduced the organ-drenched fan favorite “Intervention” by  saying, “this is the church song.” As he launched into the first verse, a man dressed as Jesus rose up on his friend’s shoulders from the pit, where the hardcore faithful were standing. “I never thought I’d see him that way, I’ll tell you that,” Butler deadpanned, without missing a beat. Then he missed a beat. “You fucked me up, I missed a whole verse now.” Seeing Jesus will do that to you.

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# 2

I also saw the Pope, Batman, the Grim Reaper and several people in Mardi Gras masks. Thanks to Arcade Fire’s suggested dress code, about half the audience was wearing formal wear or some sort of Halloween costume. I myself got to break out my wedding suit. I’m glad I dressed up, it made the show better somehow. Also, show opener DJ Kid Koala was dressed like a koala.

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#3

You do a lot of head nodding at an Arcade Fire show. The Canadian indie rock band with the religious overtones make dance music that stimulates your imagination — with lyrics that encapsulate the feeling of being young, tinged with the fear of growing old and complacent. The addition of two Haitian steel drummers to their crew brings the dance party element to the forefront.

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#4

Win Butler is an excellent rock and roll frontman. He perches on his monitor like Bono, pours water over his head like Springsteen, and tosses half-empty water bottles into the crowd like Axl Rose. During “Wake Up,” as he brought the show to a climax with the pay-off line “you better look out below!” he sent his tambourine sailing into the tenth row.

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#5

While it’s hard to top turned-to-eleven, blood-pumping masterpieces like “Intervention,” “Keep The Car Running” and “Rebellion (Lies),” the opening one-two punch of “Reflektor” and “Here Comes The Night Time” (both from their new album Reflektor) may have been the highlight of the show. Those performances (complete with confetti cannons and cascading streamers) set the tone for the entire concert; a spectacle of light, music and energy that made you feel like you were on the inside of a disco ball looking out.

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#6

The Nashville component: Arcade Fire have taken a nod from Bruce Springsteen by covering a song that’s local to each venue they play on tour. Instead of going country and playing the umpteenth cover version of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” heard in Nashville that week, they went with The Louvin Brothers’ “Broad Minded,” with Will Butler on lead vocals. It’s a gospel song; very fitting.

Earlier, they teased an appearance by “local girl” Miley Cyrus, blasting “We Can’t Stop” from the P.A. “Is that her singing or a recording,” Win sniped. “I can’t tell the difference.” They also teased a performance of Neon Bible’s “My Body Is A Cage,” which was kind of not cool — hearing the full thing would have been epic. They did play most of “Television Antichrist Blues” (which has not been played on this tour) at the end of “Intervention,” so you could say that made up for it.

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#7

Waiting in line to exit the parking garage after the show, we saw an eerie sight, one that took me back to Arcade Fire’s early days — a man dressed in a suit wearing a grinning George Bush mask, trying to thumb a ride. We kept the car running.

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Photos By Kate Cauthen. Cell phone photos by the author.

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Photos: Arcade Fire At Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, 5/1/14