Arcade Fire, Genting Arena, Birmingham - review

By Leigh Sanders | Music | Published:

We realise that sometimes readers must scroll through a gig review and think: 'It can’t possibly have been that good’.

Arcade Fire

But we promise you, in the case of Canadian/American titans Arcade Fire, this truly was.

They have always put on a show. Ever since their humble beginnings off the back of debut LP Funeral in 2004 they have combined their music with lighting and inventive sets to wow crowds.

And at the Genting Arena on this wet and miserable Sunday evening this was no exception.

They utilised a square in-the-round stage, dressing it up as a boxing ring at first, and combined it with huge screens mimicking in-your-face American advertising as their latest record Everything Now did last year with its lyrics and messages.

The end result was an electric paradise. Even when they ditched the physical ring ropes, huge lighting pylons dropped from the ceiling to carry on the effect using stunning laser beams. Coupled with rotating drum kits and band members who don’t understand the notion of remaining stationary, it was quite the spectacle.

This is the band's main strength. It consisted of nine members on stage, but the musicians played enough instruments to keep 99 people busy.

Régine Chassagne led the way in her own unique style. She oozed the kind of cool normally shown by Karen O, marching around the four sides of the stage and playing pretty much everything in its confines. She even employed huge rhythmic gymnastics-like streamers at one point as she paraded around, which brought one of the loudest cheers of the night.

And despite the group's ever-changing style, none of the music sounded out of place.


Everything Now, one of the happiest songs around, had the seated crowd on their feet immediately - and they didn’t sit down as they joined the stalls for a stomp-along to early hits Rebellion and the epic No Cars Go.

The band added a deliciously snarly rock vibe for the middle portion of the set with Rococo and Normal Person particularly oozing aggression as the lighting turned more vivid to match what we were hearing.

The Suburbs and Ready To Start had us in full voice as vocalis and guitarist Win Butler let the crowd lead the singing for the odd chorus, and when the electro vibes really came out for Creature Comfort and another early stonker, Power Out, nobody was flagging as the stage was bathed in vivid, dangerous red light for the latter.

And when they brought support act Preservation Hall Jazz Band back out for closer Wake Up, there must have been some sort of record on show for the most percussion included on one stage.

The crowds were still singing the interludes to Everything Now and Wake Up in the toilets on the way out and all the way back to the Genting Arena car parks too. What more proof was there that this was one gig that wowed?

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at


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