Arcade Fire's surprising success makes complete sense after seeing its heartwarming, energetic live show.
The Canadian cooperative -- which featured 13 main band members at Barclays Center Friday night, though it swelled to 25 for the encores -- has managed two No. 1 albums and an Album of the Year Grammy for "The Suburbs" without the benefit of a major label. It is on the tail end of a mostly sold-out arena tour, including a three-show run at Barclays Center ending Sunday night, without the benefit of a hit single.
For nearly two hours, Arcade Fire's singers Win Butler and Regine Chassagne led the crowd -- many in formal attire or in costume, at the band's request -- through an impressive rock show influenced by everything from '80s synth-pop to the stadium anthems of '90s U2 to current world beat.
Arcade Fire clearly knows the power of a memorable melody, but it's the way it welds them to weighty subjects that takes its music and live show to the next level. Its current single "Afterlife" sounds even more epic in concert as it ties a synth-pop dance hook worthy of New Order to a discussion of the meaning of life and questions about the finality of death.
And there is no mistaking the power of its longtime finale "Wake Up," a rousing sing-along about the power of youth and following your heart. It's a moment that will keep fans coming back for more -- and bringing more friends with them -- for decades to come.
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