Thursday 6 July, Castlefield Bowl (part of Manchester International Festival)
It’s 10.30pm on a Thursday night, normally you’d find me catching up on my to-do list or sweating it out at the at the gym, but on this Thursday, I was belting out the words to Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ as it’s covered in a hypnotic, ethereal way by Arcade Fire. And all the time I was thinking – in live music terms, for me, it doesn’t get much better than this!
In case you haven’t heard of Arcade Fire, they’re a Canadian indie-rock band consisting of artists who can turn their hand to multiple instruments including the hurdy-gurdy, omnichord and gadulka. They’re currently touring in advance of the release of their album Everything Now.
Castlefield Bowl, a concrete amphitheatre was a rather intimate venue for a sweeping and expansive performance, both in terms of the staging which consisted on ambient projections, huge clouds of smoke and colourful lighting, and the music that was in true Arcade Fire fashion was full of soaring choruses, synthesised beats and vocals that fluctuated between catchy and atmospheric.
I’m usually very skeptical about bands saying how much they love the current city they’re performing in. After all you’re hardly going to say you’re not fond of a place in front of a crowd of locals. However Win Butler’s between-song assertions that Manchester was an inspiring city did seem to give off a palpable love for this place, that only increased the positive energy bouncing round Castlefield’s concrete arena.
I quickly found myself swept along with the music and the dancing of the rest of the crowd in what was joyous gig, featuring songs like ‘Sprawl II’, ‘Everything Now’ and ‘Rebellion’ that are favourites of mine and that I’ve been enjoying listening to for the following week after the gig.
In my opinion, the sign of a good live musical performance is when you can’t wait to hear the artists’ music again and I’ve certainly been eager to revisit their albums at every opportunity over the last few days, especially because it’s given me a chance to reminisce over what was an enjoyable gig featuring impressive, skillful and completely entertaining performances.