ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 22 APRIL 2008
Today’s offering features a band that seemed to almost appear out of nowhere a couple of years back.
In early-2005, they were touring the UK and appearing at the tiniest of venues such as the Debating Chamber of Glasgow University. Word of mouth got out that as a live act, they were unlike anything that had come along in recent times. Their cartoon video for the single Power Out was on heavy rotation on MTV2. But still they seemed to be something of a mystery….unless of course you were one of those who surfed the internet where you would find thousands of people prepared to say that Arcade Fire were the future of rock’n’roll.
Then came the summer festivals in Europe, Japan and North America. Arcade Fire seemed to be on the bills of just about all of them, and this is where they really grabbed the attention of the casual listener/watcher. The last six months of 2005 saw debut LP Funeral fly off the shelves of record shops everywhere, but particularly in the UK. The round-up of music for the year saw many pundits/writers/columnists list the LP as their favourite of the previous 12 months, thus maintaining a momentum in sales in the all-important pre-Xmas rush.
Suddenly, everyone seemed to believe what the bloggers had been saying for months – Arcade Fire truly were the best and most exciting band in the world. The pressure really was on to deliver a follow-up LP that met these expectations. The band spent most of 2006 locked-up in Montreal writing and recording the songs, and the lack of live appearances and new material only seemed to heighten the expectations amongst fans and critics alike.
Neon Bible came out in the early part of 2007. The reaction was, in my mind, bizarre. To the likes of myself who hadn’t quite picked up on the band in the first weeks of hysteria, it sounded like a great follow-up. Yes, it was far more polished and accomplished than the debut, and it maybe did lean heavily on other influences rather than their own sounds. It certainly wasn’t a clone of Funeral…
And yet, those who were in at the start seemed to turn on the band rather viciously and accuse them of recording something akin to a commercial sell-out. It was almost as if they were jealous that their little secret was now so well-known and proving to be popular. I remember reading one particular critic saying that he could no longer give any time of the day to Arcade Fire now that their LPs were on sale in supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda (the latter being part of the Wal-Mart group), which I really thought was the height of cultural snobbery.
It will be hugely interesting to see what sort of LP is next, and what sort of reaction the band will get. I think their reputation for being such a fantastic live act will ensure the fan base remains high and tickets for shows will be hard to come by (even REM over the past 8-10 years with critically-panned and poor-selling LPs have sold out the arenas and large outdoor shows). Does indie-orchestra have a long-term future?? I think so….
By the time I latched on to Arcade Fire, the early singles had sold out and were out of print. So you’ll need to make do with a lift from the LP:-
mp3 : Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)
Drums, bass, piano, guitars and strings are all at the fore at one point or other during this incredible five and a bit minutes. And then there’s that fabulous sing-a-long chorus. A far better tune than the more lauded Wake Up (although I will admit that the latter is a live tour-de-force)
If, 30 years ago you’d have said that one day I’d be raving about a band like Arcade Fire, I’d have sneered in your face. Back then all that mattered were scratchy guitars, a tune that made you leap around and sweat profusely while shouting along with the chorus on singles lasting no more than 2mins 30 secs in length.
The times they-are-a-changing.
More mutterings about growing old coming your way next week.