Anton Corbijn While Montreal's Arcade Fire have been known to think worldly…
- Posted on Oct 6th 2010 6:01AM by Benjy Eisen
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The setting was so idyllic and relaxed that the small stage -- devoid of Arcade Fire's normal touring production -- didn't even have lighting trusses or, for that matter, a roof. This would almost become a problem as rain threatened to ruin the evening before it even began. "We were going to soundcheck, but then it started raining, so we didn't," ringleader Win Butler explained to the crowd, early on. "It's alright."
And indeed, it was. That is, until an hour or so into it when a light sprinkle seemed to warn of something more. Butler responded with genuine "don't-rain-on-my-parade" concern by leading the crowd in a Woodstock-inspired "No rain!" chant. "It better not f---ing rain," he said, shaking his fist at the little bit of sky that poked through the redwood canopy. "I trusted you. I was told you had a magic crystal. Where's your magic crystal now?" he asked the Northern Californian crowd. Nonetheless, the band soldiered on, the "No rain!" chant apparently holding, as Arcade Fire tore through their catalog, giving as much attention to their 2004 breakthrough debut, 'Funeral,' as their current release, 'The Suburbs.'
And, since this was a special night, the band even had a surprise in store with special guest Colin Stetson, who, earlier, performed 20 minutes of instrumental saxophone madness to kick off the night. "There's a crazy sound on the record," Butler said about 'The Suburbs,' towards the end of their set. "And it's Colin Stetson on the saxophone. This is the first time Stetson he's playing the saxophone with us in person. That is, unless you consider being in the studio playing 'in person,' which I personally don't. The suspense is killing me -- it's going to be great."
But before the band launched into the song -- 'We Used to Wait' -- Butler thought it appropriate that they all sing 'Happy Birthday' to his brother and fellow bandmate, Will Butler. "This is going to be Colin's first saxophone solo onstage with the Arcade Fire," he said, as Stetson riffed on the theme to 'Happy Birthday.' And, indeed, it seemed an appropriate punctuation for what proved to be a celebratory night, all around.
When a light drizzle finally did shut the concert down -- just one song early -- Butler looked satisfied. After skipping the encore charade to close on a high note ('Wake Up'), he waved goodbye to the small crowd, taking one last look upwards at the redwoods and the Pacific Ocean beyond, as if to remember a night that he, himself, had called "special." Certainly, nobody in the audience will ever forget.