Live review: The Reflektors (Arcade Fire) – Camden Roundhouse

PUBLISHED: 18:07 14 November 2013 | UPDATED: 18:07 14 November 2013

Arcade Fire concert - London

Arcade Fire concert - London

PA Archive/Press Association Images

‘We’ve been a fake band since 19-fakedy-fake,’ quips frontman Win Butler of The Reflektors – or as they’re better known, Arcade Fire.

The real, actual band that so many know and love have become a staple of indie rock music through four almost faultless LPs, gradually ascending to the heights of acclaim and influence that only bands like Radiohead and U2 can also be considered. But it is Arcade Fire’s live reputation that is so noteworthy.

Earnest and visceral connection is what they have cut their teeth on, and is something so rarely seen these days; yet in their new incarnation – the so-called Reflektors – the band seem to be aiming more for your feet than your heart (or so it seems).

Camden Roundhouse’s small capacity belies the arenas that Canadian seven-piece is used to filling these days.

Entering the main space feels like stepping momentarily into a futuristic nightclub: neon lights, silver streamers and fans dressed up in fluorescent wigs and masks, like a scene out of Blade Runner.

Most have obeyed the mandatory costume or formal attire rule that the band have set, though in typical British fashion there are always cynics. “For those that didn’t want to dress up, I’m not sorry,” says Butler.

As a black curtain drops, the band appear with new track ‘Reflektor’, immediately seizing the energy of those lucky enough to get tickets tonight. The song’s swirling rhythms and pulsating energy continue into the dark ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’ from their breakthrough classic Funeral.

Arcade Fire’s new fourth album Reflektor has formed the bulk of this current small tour’s setlist, and their adaptation to a more Talking Heads direction feels seamless.

Yet this show not only incorporates their renowned live power as a rock band, but questions it too.

Recalling David Byrne’s stage eccentrics, Butler spanners in a deadpan monologue on stealing his mum’s car keys when he was fifteen and questions the detractors of their new album in a tongue-in-cheek manner, all before launching into the out-and-out rock-and-roll number ‘Normal Person’.

In contrast, the unfeigned emotion of ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ serves a beautiful counterpoint, with co-frontwoman Régine Chassagne singing her heart out on “they heard me singing and they told me to stop, quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.”

Butler later dons a papier mache head for a cover of Devo’s ‘Uncontrollable Urge’, presenting a clear contrast to the song’s static energy.

The band then launch into the carnival anthem ‘Here Comes the Night Time’, proving the most energetic song of the night.

Closers ‘Crown of Love’ and ‘Haiti’ two of the most intimate numbers off their debut form the sentimental zenith of their set, and end a show of joyous energy and honesty, which, despite the fake name, feels like one of the most authentic experiences a band could conceive.

The visceral truth Arcade Fire seek seeps into the live shows, and the irony and fun that they employ tonight through dance, masks and neon lights only serves to make their mandate more crucial, proving once again why they are one of the best and most creative bands of their generation.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ham&High. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hampstead Highgate Express