With night one of Arcade Fire’s five show run upon us at Judson Memorial Church (facing the south side of Washington Square Park), the only solution to abide the pre-show jitters was a nice, cold lager. (Yes, we had pre-show jitters.) And on arriving at church, we felt a pang of remorse for entering a holy house with beer breath, a rare bout of morality promptly squashed by the doorman’s gruff salutation: “I need IDs if you want a wristband to drink.” So much for Christian guilt. More fuel for the Fire, then. Brushed past David Cross in the lobby and straight to the bar, where Fabrizio Moretti had the bartender engaged:
BARTENDER: What can I get you?
FAB: Do you have vodka … ?
BARTENDER:: Yeah, sure.
FAB: I’ll have a…
BARTENDER: Just kidding man! It’s a fucking church!
FAB: (Sheepishly) Oh.
But once we and our fellow show-going Strokes wrapped our heads around drinking beer and/or vitamin water in a church, it was down to business. The big neon Bible lit up. Arcade Fire, ten deep, moved onto the stage. A sustained symphonic synth greeted ‘em, and a few tom bashes later we were head long into “Keep The Car Running.” It sorta looked like this.
Don’t think we were the only ones feeling first night anxiety, though. Awesome as it was, a mild unfamiliarity set in for the first few tunes; probably a combination of the band feeling out the joint and the crowd dealing with the combined shock of the room’s beauty and the insane amount of space, enough to move freely, dance, and prosper. Even at capacity, and with 60 additional tickets sold at the door (hint hint, Craigslisters, though you may wanna get there at 11AM like today’s die-hards), the arm room was disarming.
But from the first “hey” of “No Cars Go,” Arcade Fire owned.
As always, there was plenty of instrument switching. Juno Award winning guitarist Richard Reed Parry did his tour of the stage, on the six-string, the double bass, the megaphone. Win started on a mandolin before taking up a bass and then a guitar. Régine was everywhere, too, but most adorable when getting her dance on during “Haiti.” Aww. And though the band left the helmets at home, they still remember how to bang a hand-held tom with a Timberland boot. (Drum geeks, you’ll tell us the technical term for that.)
The Funeral tunes shook the steeple the hardest, but no surprises there; those songs are classic, Win destroys on ‘em, and maybe just maybe there were a few in the room that hadn’t heard Neon Bible just yet. (Ha.) All in all, totally fucking great. But you knew we were gonna say that.
NME had us trained to wait expectingly on the steps, hoping for an impromptu Velvet Underground cover or something. No luck. But we did see Fab walk out, thirty seconds after Kirsten Dunst, do a left-to-right scan for the TMZ photogs, and then hustle to rejoin her down the block. We’re so telling Drew.
01. “Keep The Car Running”
02. “(Antichrist Television Blues)”
03. “Black Mirror”
04. “Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son” (Serge Gainsbourg cover)
05. “No Cars Go”
07. “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations”
08. “My Body Is A Cage”
09. “Neon Bible”
10. “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)”
11. “Rebellion (Lies)”
14. “The Well And The Lighthouse”
UPDATE: We’ll link the setlist to some YouTubes as they surface.