Published Jul 29, 2011Arcade Fire last played Halifax in October 2004, just before Funeral shot the band to fame across the country and then the world. Years and Grammys have passed since then, and this wasn't the same Montreal buzz band playing a bar show. Now the crowd, gathered along the Dartmouth waterfront on a mild summer evening, included ten-year-olds and grandparents, and though the audience's welcome may have been a bit more exuberant, the old songs haven't lost any power (though they're a bit wintery for a summer night) and the band still come off sincerely.
Owen Pallett opened the show with his looping synths and violin. Pallett makes more frequent appearances in Halifax, and his live show is always warm and earnest. But the intimacy of it gets lost in the stadium format, Pallett looking small and distant on the stage.
Arcade Fire, on the other hand, had no problem filling the air, or filling the stage with instruments and musicians and three drum kits. Strutting out bedecked in sequins and shiny fabrics, the band augmented the music with flashing lights, streamers and a flashing beach ball. Playing a range of songs from each of their three albums, the crowd roared with each introduction, but songs off The Suburbs resonated especially well in this suburb across the Halifax waterfront.
The band's multi-layered compositions and majestic organ arrangements retained their majesty in the open air, and the group played an active set, switching up instruments, jumping on amps and dancing. Pallett joined the violinists for the last half of the set. A hard-rocking version of "Month of May" built to a boisterous finale before the encore. Closing out with "Sprawl II," Régine Chassagne's haunting voice rang out over the harbour, the city and out to the sprawl of the burbs.