Arcade Fire, Amsterdam, Paradiso

Final FantasyWe already published a review of Arcade Fire’s Funeral in 2004, but after seeing them again live only recently, we felt another few words about this excellent band were well in order.

Amsterdam, Paradiso. A young looking fellow enters the stage with a violin, explaining how he was late, because he had to defend Bloc Party. Owen Pallett is his name, and his solo act is called Final Fantasy, but in general he is probably better known as Arcade Fire’s violin player, or, incidentally, the Hidden Camera’s violin player.

His sound is original, refreshing and new. The violin used in every possible way, sometimes coming awfully close to being abused. I get visions of Warren Ellis, plucking the strings, using the pickups as microphone, alas, the works. All in all, a very enjoyable support act.Arcade Fire

Then it’s Arcade Fire’s turn, filling up the stage with no less than seven people. Sparks start flying right away, rhythm joins up, a splash of theatre, a dash of chaos and an unlimited supply of enthusiasm. A crash helmet becomes a drum machine, while strings and straps break, only to end up in the back of the audience, followed by a microphone stand

Most interesting to see is how often the bands changes around their musical duties. One moment this person is playing the drums, the next moment someone entirely different has taken up that task, while the former drummer is suddenly playing the guitar or the bass…

Arcade FireIn short, they bring the old church to its knees with an extremely strong gig. Unpretentious, simply doing what they do, being who they are, without falling into the over styled, over hyped indie band scenario. Or? To the casual onlooker, they may seem to be overhyped, with David Bowie calling their album the best of the year 2004, and journalists raving about them. Yet, they are not. The difference with Arcade Fire is that they actually manage to live up to the hype.
In the end, their live set ends up portraying them even better than their already fabulous recorded sound. If you do get a chance to see them, by all means, do.

All pictures (c) ~E/

Bloc Party – Banquet E.P.

blocparty.jpg The music people listen to when they are teenagers is just the best evah, they think. Nothing can top it — especially not anything that’s current. It is balls, basically. We just are more jaded as we grow older. To help 40+ curmudgeons such as myself get in touch with contemporary music, we now have the new new wave. Back comb your hair and squeeze your body into those bondage pants. The arrival of Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Interpol, The Dears, The Stills and The Rapture, has made you want to dig out your The Cure, Smiths and Joy Division albums. Bloc Party , described by MTV as South London art-punkers, and who am I to argue, take their influences and run with ’em: the best of The Cure with the punchiest Joy Division/New Order, and the choppiest Gang of Four. Bloc Party are blessed with a singer who has a voice that carries beautifully, especially on the phones disco edit of ‘Banquet’. ‘I’m on fire, I’m on fire,’ he proclaims. They are. This excellent E.P. is a good introduction to the band and will carry you over to the street release of their album ‘Silent Alarm’ next year.

Banquet E.P (USA) // Banquet E.P. (U.K.)