I had some reservations about finally witnessing my first live performance of Arcade Fire in an arena/stadium setting. Would I be able to see without paying a hefty premium for near-stage seats? Would the band’s performance feel disconnected compared to my normal show preference (theater venues)? Is the Palace too big for Arcade Fire? It was clear the ensemble band had some of these thoughts and more in mind when prepping for their most anticipated tour. As one of the biggest bands in rock music today, Arcade Fire succeeded in putting on a daring show, with an unexpected attention to detail and organization.
Lead singer Win Butler remarked how they wanted to put together a show that felt like it was in their basement. That basement would have been massive, but Arcade Fire made the Palace feel as intimate as possible. From hanging bulb-ed lights above the rafters, to optional fan costumes/formal attire and performing a few cuts from a small elevated stage, the Palace appeared more cozy than it’s full capacity.
Considering the Montreal-based band hadn’t played Metro Detroit since 2004, fans were likely hoping for hits from all four of Arcade Fire’s successful catalog and got a little bit of everything. Butler and a portion of the band kicked off a 2 hour set from the elevated small stage for a tropical-inspired performance of “My Body Is A Cage” before joining the rest of the band on the main stage for current album hit “Reflektor”. Butler took the opportunity to grab a reveler’s camera for an extra close-up that echoed the songs theme.
The 13-piece group sounded especially in sync on the Bossa Nova-style “Flashbulb Eyes” and aligned with the shiny above stage props. The addictive bassline and tropical percussion will likely remain circling fans minds for the remainder of the week, The new wavey hits from Reflektor included “We Exist”, “Normal Person” and “Afterlife”, but classics like “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and “Intervention” sounded just as fresh as newer material. The crowd enthusiastically cheered for Neon Bible hit “Keep The Car Running”, which Butler remarked was appropriate for Detroit. Band co-founder Régine Chassagne shined on multiple instruments and vocals throughout, especial on first set closers “It’s Never Over (Orpheus)” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains”. The latter was particularly ironic in the sprawl-central of Auburn Hills next to “trash mountain”.
The band didn’t waste much time in moving to the encore, but did it their own way. The over-sized heads from the “Reflektor” music video appeared on the North stage as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” played over the PA. Butler and co. quickly diverted the attention back to the main stage with their own spirited cover of Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”. The lanky frontman wore a four-sided LED box on his head that regretfully featured images of a morose Kwame Kilpatrick, but the rendition of a Detroit classic was appreciated. Closers “Here Comes The Night Time” and “Wake Up” incited crowd sing-a-longs that prove how many anthems Arcade Fire has amassed over the years as festival headliners. As blasts of confetti burst through the air, many would likely agree that Arcade Fire has become a rock force and could anchor any festival/venue asked. I’m just not sure any act has been able to accomplish that feat on their own terms and with their fans in mind like Arcade Fire has.
Check out more photos of the show on We Saw It. Stream a Spotify playlist of the setlist below:
Arcade Fire – Palace of Auburn Hills – 3/10/14 (via setlist.fm)
My Body Is a Cage (stripped down snippet; just … more)
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
Rococo (w/ Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” snippet)
The Suburbs (Continued)
Ready to Start
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
Intervention (Tour debut)
Keep the Car Running
It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus) (Régine on B-stage)
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) (‘Damian Taylor Remix’ intro)
Superstition (Stevie Wonder song) (Fake band on B-stage)
Uptight (Everything’s Alright) (Stevie Wonder cover)
Here Comes the Night Time