Upon getting off the A train at 175th street last night, I stuck out like a sore thumb in Washington Heights, but then I saw the parade of fellow yuppies walking to what will be one of New York City's great new concert meccas-The United Palace Theater. A theater that was constructed in the 30's and is now used for Baptist sermons and Evangelicals, its Gothic architecture and ambiance was brought straight to hell with hundreds of concert goers that were greeted with a marquee that stated "Rev. Ike Welcomes You." Just before the Canadian 10 piece took the stage neon lights and the logo of their latest effort Neon Bible appeared against the back curtain and old Televisions that looked reminiscent of TV's from Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" aligned the perimeter of the stage. The Televisions turned on unexpectedly and had a screaming evangelical woman chanting and preaching to the audience, once the crowd was lost in confusion, The Arcade Fire walked on and had the crowd at their feet. Opening with "Black Mirror," and pulling and pushing the crowd in ways no one had expected, you could also never expect or tell that this is one of the first shows singer Win Butler has performed after having major throat surgery. I have never seen a band of musicians such as this, with each member switching off instruments and/or playing multiple instruments at once, and having the best time doing it. The Arcade Fire stormed through a series of tracks from Neon Bible before getting into older songs from their debut, Funeral. But their was something about the performance, aside from the musicianship, stage presents and audience reaction, it was all about the band. They looked and played as if this is going to be the last performance of their career and made sure the paying customers got their monies worth, and we sure did. After witnessing one of the greatest concert performances I have ever seen, I can understand why they are David Bowie's favorite band and why U2 and many other well respected bands are handpicking The Arcade Fire as opening acts. The accolades this band has garnished are well deserved and they are band not to be overlooked.
SetList: May 7, 2007 - The United Palace, New York, NY
Black Mirror, No Cars Go, Neighborhood #2 (Laika), Haiti, Black Wave/Bad Vibration, Neon Bible, Windowsill, The Well And The Lighthouse, Ocean Of Noise, Keep The Car Running, (Antichrist Television Blues), Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out), Rebellion (Lies)
Encore: Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels), Intervention