Power out?

Photo Credit: Scott M. Lacey for the Boston Phoenix

Last night, three of the four members of ere Pulp and Circumstance checked out the Arcade Fire, as they blazed through town on tour to support their latest record, The Suburbs. Despite the trippy video montage, the awkward seated-ness of the gig, and of course those pesky 24 ouncers, it was a surprisingly pleasant affair even if P&C is still undecided about the new album…Esteban Miguel’s review is as follows…

Accordions turn me on, at least when in the hands of the Arcade Fire’s Regine Chassagne. Her eccentric presence, with a different instrument for every tune, it seemed, and jittery stage manner is the launching point for the band’s live performances, as was demonstrated at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston on Aug. 1.

Chassagne’s beau and lead singer, Win Butler, can be an erratic vocalist live, stressing vigor over form, so a lot depends on the band’s eccentricity, kinetic-ism and simple strength in numbers – with a seven member lineup playing everything from the tambourine to the violin – for it to pull off a great show. A lot of that came together at the Pavilion, especially on the tracks from Funeral. The night’s highlights were the alpha dogs from that album: “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”, “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”, “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Wake Up”.

The new tracks from The Suburbs were unfamiliar to the audience but held promise, even though it is hard to warm up to a tune on first listen. With the album’s release date quickly approaching, it will be interesting to see how they play to an audience, in about a month’s time, that has already digested its contents a few times over.

The one thing that held the night back–even if it’s more a quibble than anything else–is that some of the “spontaneity” seemed a little forced. There is one thing to have a rousing sing-along to a well-known tune. But to have the show’s choreography depend on it, with a pan of the audience on the screen behind the band as everyone sung along to Wake Up, sort of took the air out of the moment. Spontaneity can’t be choreographed, even if something like everyone singing along to the band’s signature tune is anticipated. Partly for this reason, the communal experience the band is known for in its live performances was only there in spades.

But it was still a solid show with the band performing all their signature tunes with a pretty cool stage presentation, even if it got creepy at times. It whet my whistle for a trip to The Suburbs on Tuesday.

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