Arcade Fire in Hyde Park, London 3/7/14


Arcade Fire closed off their European tour with a raucous, eclectic and visually engaging 2-hour headline set at London's inaugural BST festival, on a scorching July evening in Hyde Park.

Comprising six ‘full time’ members, as well as a host of others (one of whose only perceivable job was to hit inanimate objects with a warped tambourine during the height of an acid trip), Arcade Fire have a commanding stage presence. The theatre is enhanced by the band’s constant instrumental carousel, which renders it virtually impossible to keep track of who is playing what.

Lead singer Win Butler's sardonic plea to 'not wake the rich people up' was befitting; 8.30 felt like a somewhat premature start, and an injustice to a captivating two hours of live music that continually gathered momentum.

Indeed, Arcade Fire never sound far from perfect, projecting a huge soundscape and adding a multitude of dynamics to what you hear on their recorded work. Thematically, their set ranges from surrealist theatre to outright euphoria.

Highlights of a tracklist that spanned their discography included Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out), Here Comes the Night Time, and a stunning rendition of Sprawl II. The finale, Wake Up, was almost entirely drowned out by wordless crowd participation.

Pleasantries were widespread, with Rolling Stones and Beatles tracks incorporated as a predictable but welcome ode to British music. Cheers guys!

Barclays made an unfortunate mark on the event, stamping everything with branding synonymous with LIBOR manipulation and dividing the crowd into three tiers of escalating sterility. While this served as a stark reminder of the incompatibility of investment banking and future-indie, little could be done to ruin a stonking evening in London with a brilliantly refined act playing at their epoch.