Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arcade Fire Returns To Winnipeg

The last time Arcade Fire played in Winnipeg they performed at the Burton Cummings Theatre, a near perfect venue for the band, with it's antique ornate details and a classic red velvet curtain that opens to the stage. That show was truly one of the best live concerts I have attended and I thought the band's theatrics and very visual show was well suited to the old classic theatre. Fast forward 5 years to the much larger MTS Centre, a hockey arena, not an ideal venue for a concert, but to it's credit in 2008, the MTS Centre was the 19th busiest arena in the world (11th in North America and 3rd in Canada), so it's used for more than hockey games and tractor pulls. This was my second concert at this venue (it opened in 2004), the first was the Who and I sat in the far corner of the upper deck and the sound was horrible, but this was my first arena show on the floor.

The popularity of the band has soared since their last visit, as they have impressively sold out venues across the world. In August, they sold-out two shows at Madison Square Gardens in New York, I believe they are more celebrated outside of Canada (apart from Montreal, their hometown), they are big in the states and even more popular in Europe. Their latest album, The Suburbs, debuted at #1 proving they are no longer a cult indie-rock band, but now they have hit the mainstream which means radio play, TV talk shows and more buzz than ever. I predicted they would not draw more than 5,000 fans to the show in Winnipeg, as I noticed a day before the show Ticketmaster wasn't offering tickets in the 300 section (upper deck) anymore, probably hoping to sell out the lower bowl first. I'm not doubting their fan support here, I just think half the people at the show probably only heard of this band in the last month or two, like a couple songs on the new album and are caught in the hipster hype. There was 5,500 people at the show and with a 3/4 setup in the arena it didn't seem as cavernous. Once the show started with the crowd crammed together and the blinding lights, big sound and the large drive-in movie screen behind the band, it grabbed your attention and made you forget you were in a hockey arena. Visually it was stunning, the movie screen projected artsy images and live video of the band on stage perfectly meshing with the band's soundtrack. As expected, Arcade Fire was amazing, their hyper-energetic, grandiose, highly charged style is the only way this band plays. The band members continuously switch instruments and I don't think there was a song where the instrumental set-up was the same. Regine Chassagne moved between accordion, tambourine, keyboards and did a very commendable job on the drums.

Calexico opened the show and I was impressed with what I saw. I know they played at the Folk Festival a few years back, but I would like to see them at a smaller intimate venue as headliners. A band like Calexico that has been around longer than the headliner has lots to offer and they only gave us a small sample of their quite impressive catalog. I don't know if it's just me, though I've heard similar comments, but was the sound more clearer for Calexico than for Arcade Fire? I was standing fairly close to the stage for Calexico almost in line with the overhead speakers and thought maybe I was too close, not getting enough vocals in the mix. For Arcade Fire we moved back to the middle of the floor to find the "sweet spot" to get a more balanced sound. It helped, but the wall of sound from Arcade Fire sounded muddled and boomy, granted it must be challenging being the sound guy for a large 8-member band with various instruments and the arena acoustics don't help, but I thought the headliners were suppose to have the cleanest sound. You can judge for yourself with my recording.

Speaking of recording, there is good news and bad news. First the good news, I recorded the complete Calexico set (I'll post that later) and it sounds pretty good despite the loud talkers behind me, but that's expected during the opening band's set. I also captured the Arcade Fire set and it too sounds better than when I was standing at the show, but the bad news is it's incomplete. When I started the recording, I fiddled with the sound levels and jostled for position on the floor (I yelled at and shoved a tall guy that pushed his way in front of me then stopped inches in front of me as soon as the band began), but I forgot to hit the record button again, so it was paused for the first 3 songs! Fortunately, I noticed after the third song (Keep The Car Running) and I recovered to record the rest of the show. I still can't believe it, I gotta make a check list or something to remind me for the next concert. I got this digital recorder because it was suppose to make recording shows easier and more efficient...damn, human error! The other issue with the recording was the loud idiot behind me who screamed at the top of his lungs between songs and during the quieter parts of songs. His ear splitting, "yeahhhhhh!!!" got annoying very quickly and this attention whore must have felt great pleasure every time he bellowed and everyone around him glared at him...sorry, I should have moved.
I recommend the show in loss-less format, so if you are a member, the FLAC files are posted at Dimeadozen.

For "real" reviews of the show:
Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg Sun

MTS Centre

Winnipeg, MB, Canada

September 23, 2010

audience master- recorded on the floor (middle)

*Ready to Start
*Month of May
*Keep the Car Running
01. Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
02. No Cars Go
03. Haïti
04. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
05. Half Light II (No Celebration)
06. Rococo
07. The Suburbs
08. Ocean of Noise
09. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
10. We Used to Wait
11. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
12. Rebellion (Lies)

14. Intervention
15. Modern Man
16. Wake Up

*not recorded

ARCADE FIRE- Winnipeg 2010-09-23 rar.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I thought about going but by the time I remembered I thought there wouldn't be seats left. Also, because there was a football practice I couldn't get Sandy to go anyway.

I am amazed that the band has become so popular so fast. Not because I don't think they are really good, but because bands I like seldom seem become that popular.

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