Arcade Fire Kicks Off U.S. Run With Explosive Madison Square Garden Show: Live Recap

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Arcade Fire perform at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 12, 2017 in New York City.  

The album rollout for Arcade Fire’s latest project, Everything Now, was anything but ordinary. From fake album reviews posted by the band itself to outrageously priced fidget spinners that doubled as USB drives, the indie rockers continued to come out with wacky (and at times confusing) promotional stunts.

The band’s United States kick-off show at New York’s Madison Square Garden (Sept. 12) proved to be just as outlandish. Arcade Fire performed on a square stage centered in the middle of the floor (leaving no backstage of any kind) that had a spinning circular platform in the middle. The stage was littered with platforms that brothers Win and Will Butler jumped on and off, as if they were on a playground rather than a main stage. In between each song, the never-ending instrumentals vibrated throughout the stadium, serving as a universal pulse. Two large disco balls acted as bookends to the stage, while four vertical banners that bared the Everything Now logo sporadically descended to shoot out rainbow-colored lights. 

Without a proper backstage, the band’s only option in terms of getting on stage was to walk through the general admission crowd. After an announcer read through fake statistics, much like before a boxing match, of the band’s total collective weight and accolades won, Arcade Fire -- fronted by Win and wife Regine Chassagne -- eagerly launched into “Everything Now.”

Following the release of Everything Now, many longtime fans were quick to question the band's further departure from the righteous indie-rock anthems into dance- and irony-driven pop-rock, but Arcade Fire’s carefully crafted setlist proved just how cohesive the band's catalog remains. Just about all of their classics are danceable in some way -- a continuity best evidenced when Everything Now’s disco-tinged “Signs Of Life” easily led into 2004’s chest-beating Funeral highlight “Rebellion (Lies)."

The nearly two-hour-long set included a shoutout to the Hand in Hand telethon, which simultaneously was raising money for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma relief across the country. "My brother and I are from Houston," Win said, before telling the crowd they had wanted to be at the telethon, but (clearly) had a prior commitment. The stadium screens then flashed  the donation website, which stayed up as the band dove into “The Suburbs.” From there, the set list ran in pairs: “Suburbs” was followed with “Ready To Start” (both off The Suburbs). Reflektor’s title track and “Afterlife” were performed back-to-back. And finally, “Infinite Content” and “Creature Comfort,” off Everything Now, brought the set full-circle.

The set's 15-minute encore began with Win belting “We Don’t Deserve Love” while standing in the crowd, as Regine hit bottles with silver spoons from the stage. Opening act Preservation Hall Jazz Band (who has performed with Arcade Fire a handful of times before, including at the Panorama music festival last summer) soon joined in the fun. With an impressive amount of people on a seemingly confined stage, Win led Madison Square Garden through chants of “Everything Now," which seamlessly flowed into the rallying “Wake Up.”

As Arcade Fire once again made its way through the crowd, the jazz band offered a brassy backbeat for Win to spontaneously bust out the opening lines of “Stand By Me" as he lingered in the exit, not wanting to end the show. When he finally did disappear (with a humble smile spread across his face) it was clear that Win, much like the audience, was infinitely content.