Latitude 2009

The Arcade Fire

Michael Bonner

They call this time the gloaming -- night coming down, all colours leached from the sky. It seems a remarkably appropriate moment for the Arcade Fire to take the stage and close Latitude Year two with an enormous bang. And some fireworks.

Kicking off with "Keep The Car Running", they're a combustive, thrilling headline act, easily the best of the festival. The bigger the stage, it seems, the more sense they make, the more scope there is for their songs to grow.

They're certainly more relaxed than I've seen them before. Win Butler talks about a bet he lost, 100 Canadian dollars to the tour manager who he bet he could get a copy of the new Harry Potter book early and spill the ending to the audience here tonight. He's not quite cracking jokes, but he seems far from the dour, intense soul of legend, brooding gloomily about approaching apocalypse.

He goes on to dedicate "Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)" to Jarvis Cocker, who played earlier. "We'd never have written this song without hearing 'Common People'," says Win. "It's a pleasure sharing a stage with Jarvis."

What follows is a run through the band's two albums, and as their set heads towards its end, the focus perhaps inevitably shifts to the highlights from their debut, Funeral. "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)", "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Wake Up" generate a real excitement and shared experience with the audience.

I mentioned on my The Good, The Bad & The Queen blog yesterday that I'd felt they hadn't really brought the audience together -- it just felt like a lot of people standing together in a field, rather than any celebration of the music. Arcade Fire are the exact opposite, whipping up a veritable storm, particularly on a furious "Wake Up".

And then the fireworks come, in showers of light.

A sparkling end to a fine weekend at Latitude.

And so, it's off to the bar.

See you next year!


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