Arcade Fire played a stomper of a gig at Malahide Castle and then hit Whelans for even more magic
Review and reaction from both gigs...
Arcade Fire have had a shiny happy (ish) make-over, with their traditional wardrobe of glum overcoats and serious hats replaced by lurid, eighties-style leisure wear as the band performed at Malahide Castle.
Singer Win Butler – previously the most phlegmatic man in indie pop – was squeezed into fluorescent orange high-tops; singer Régine Chassagne sporting green neon wrist-bands and matching fishnets. Somewhere out there a Michael Jackson tribute band is wondering who raided their wardrobe.
As well as a warning to the dangers of watching too much Zoolander on the tour-bus, this stylistic reboot was an appetite whetter for the forthcoming Everything Now album (the release of which the group teased by hiding boxes of specially branded cereal around Dublin).
A further glimpse of what awaits was provided as Arcade Fire plunged into the record’s Abba-go-goth title track, their traditional sincerity lit up with an electro-pop flutter.
Cheesy earnestness is a hard balancing act but the American-Canadian ensemble carried it off, Butler’s grin growing wider as the initially restive audience locked into the track’s groove.
Yet any worries that this would be an evening dominated by the dreaded "new songs" were quickly laid to rest as Arcade Fire resumed their long-running love affair with Ireland. It’s a romance that goes back to their now quasi-legendary 2005 Electric Picnic gig and which would continue later in the evening at Whelan’s, where Butler and chums played a short "after-party" acoustic set.
As the painterly horizon sank into darkness, they clicked smoothly into greatest hits mode. With a mix of rock star swagger and awkward intensity, Butler led the troupe into arguably their most beloved anthem, Rebellion (Lies) early on and from there treated the crowd of ageing millennials on a breathless tour of their catalogue.
This overcast corner of north Dublin proved a surprisingly evocative backdrop for Haiti, Chassagne’s valentine to the homeland of her birth while fountains of dry ice backlit Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) an electro-noir fever dream inspired by David Lynch suburban surrealism.
"You give us so much every time," said Butler at the end. The cheers ringing out confirmed the feeling was entirely mutual.
For those who missed Malahide Castle and Whelans, here's a little taster of what went down:
Arcade Fire Whelans like that's just the norm pic.twitter.com/heqK9zS9Vm— Gráinne Biddle (@grainnebiddle) June 14, 2017
Arcade fire in whelans pic.twitter.com/oMwKusRgzO— Alison Spittle (@AlisonSpittle) June 15, 2017
Arcade Fire just rocked into Whelans pic.twitter.com/Qidi6kHRKw— Sean Duffy (@seansduffy) June 14, 2017
Not everyone knew about the surprise gig (surprise, surprise) and some were a bit miffed they missed it..
Very annoyed right now with Arcade Fire, the Dart, Malahide, whelans, everyone who was in on this and didn't tell me, Dublin, the world etc.— Hilary A White (@HAWhiteK) June 14, 2017
Arcade fire were amazing at malahide castle! Raging I couldn't get into whelans afterwards— Stephen Kavanagh (@bigbeard88) June 15, 2017
I so wish i was at whelans for the "secret" Arcade Fire gig. How the bloody hell didn't i hear about it?— shane o Neil (@SNeil99) June 15, 2017