Live Review: Arcade Fire with Owen Pallett, the Vaccines and Mumford and Sons at London Hyde Park – 30th June 2011

By on Monday, 11th July 2011 at 2:00 pm

Editor’s note: We imagine that Arcade Fire’s show at Manchester’s MEN Arena won’t have the same curfew issues as this Hyde Park show. So why not enter our contest for a pair of tickets to the show, if you haven’t all ready? Full contest details here.

Montreal outfit Arcade Fire’s trips to England are often something of conversation and big steps. Last year came the controversial decision to have the group as headliners for Leeds and Reading festivals, which was quickly followed by a huge European and world tour which hit some of the most prominent arenas in the world. Follow this with Grammy and Brits success, and last year was a big year for The Subu..I mean Arcade Fire (sorry Barbra Streisand) all in all, and now with the deluxe version of their third record, ‘The Suburbs’, in stores and the Spike Jones short film released, the troupe have assembled at a bigger stage once more at Hyde Park, London.

Not that you can hear them though. Due to the restrictions at Hyde Park, Win Butler and Co. aren’t running at 11, more 7 and you can tell that it’s irritating them. “The neighbourhood wants you to be quieter”, shouts Win during ‘Power Out’. It’s greated by a muffled cheer. Sadly, this hasn’t been an issue earlier in the evening as volume levels have been relatively high all afternoon. First up was Owen Pallett. Specially chosen by tonight’s headliners and later joining them on stage as an extra to their live setup, Pallet played a selection of his finest tracks and began to warm up a crowd who, mostly, hadn’t heard of him.

The Vaccines are riding on the back of their debut album at the moment, which has seen them become one of the hype bands of the year. Their catchy tunes storm over Hyde Park and they go down a treat for many. Their Strokes-esque style gives the crowd a lot to jump about, even if sometimes, it’s hard to explain where one track ends and another begins.  Beirut then bring a renaissance to the park, giving everyone a much needed refreshing sound. It’s different to anything else you’ll hear in such a huge venue, and the crowd warm to it well, even without knowing many of the tracks.

After a long changeover comes 70 minutes of Mumford and Sons. For many here, the group are the main attraction, and in glimpses, you can see why. ‘Little Lion Man’ brings a huge singalong and jig from the thousands assembled in a now boiling Hyde Park. Playing a selection of songs from their second album, which should be released by the end of the year, the indie-folk men are in high spirits. I can’t help but feel like Mumford and Sons miss something though and at times, they bore me immensely. Their style becomes monotonous and when you know about the band as people, you start to question where their lyrical choices stop being heartfelt and start being cliches It is however a riotous end with ‘The Cave’ bringing their set to a close.

Twenty minutes later, Arcade Fire step out into their biggest UK show to date and they’ve decided to change it around a bit. Gone is the air of predictability that has been building around them and instead the usual set closer ‘Wake Up’ is played second so “we can see people’s reaction,” says Win Butler. It’s a night that really shows that Arcade Fire have begun their transition from the band that made ‘The Suburbs’ to a seriously big group about to progress to their fourth album. Every part of their careers has been a steady progression from a band of relative unknowns to a group on the verge of Stadium Rock and when a track like ‘Month Of May’ comes along, there’s pandemonium in both crowd and stage. Everyone seems to be on board watching a band in the form of their lives realise who they can be.

Giving their UK debut to deluxe ‘Suburbs’ track ‘Speaking in Tongues’ and prompting an echo with every singalong part to their music, the dedication in the area is huge. For a band with so many mid-power songs, you can hardly compare them to the Eno sound that Glastonbury headliners Coldplay and U2 demonstrated the week before, but you can certainly see them at the top of the Pyramid stage billing in 2 years time. Especially with huge tracks such as set opener ‘Ready To Start’ and ‘Keep the Car Running’ that features in their encore. Over the period of 90 minutes, Arcade Fire do have a few lapses. They’ve still not quite got the full singles collection to fill such a huge occasion, however when you’ve written album tracks as good as ‘Rococo’, who really minds?

Tonight then, whilst not being a huge triumph, has seen the Canadian group cement their position in the record collections of all present and given a tip of the hat to those who questioned their capacity to do huge shows. Closing with ‘Sprawl II’, Regine Chassange’s crowning moment in ‘The Suburbs’ leaves everyone feeling just as warm as they were when the sun was beating down just a few hours ago. If they can turn up the volume again, they could just conquer.

More photos from this concert after the cut.

Owen Pallett

Mumford and Sons

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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