Moving Past The Feeling (Godfatherecords G.R. 579)
Auditorio Monte do Gozo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain – 5 September, 2010: Ready To Start, Haiti, Rococo, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), We Used To Wait, Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), Rebellion (Lies), Keep The Car Running, Wake Up
Bonus tracks: Reading Festival, Little John’s Farm, Reading, UK – 28 August, 2010: Neighborhood #2 (Laika), No Cars Go, Modern Man, The Suburbs
This is Godfather’s first release devoted to Arcade Fire. As described on the Wikipedia website, the band, “is an indie rock band based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada…The band play guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard, French horn, accordion, harp, mandolin and hurdy-gurdy. The band takes most of their instruments on tour, and the multi-instrumentalist band members switch instrumental duties throughout their shows.” The band’s line-up has fluctuated, but the core of the outfit has remained husband-and-wife team, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. Butler’s brother William, though not a founder member, later joined, making the band something of a family affair.
Following Funeral and Neon Bible, the band released, and toured in support of, its third album, The Suburbs, in 2010. The album won great critical acclaim, with, for example, the radio station BBC 6 Music and Q magazine awarding it top spot in their lists of top albums of the year, and Billboard and New Musical Express, among others, placing it at number two. On the music reviews section of the BBC website, Mike Diver refers to The Suburbs as the band’s. “most thrillingly engrossing chapter yet: a complex, captivating work.” Emily Mackay, of NME, contends that it is, “an album that combines mass acceptability with nuch greater ambition. Pretty much perfect.” Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield calls it, “their fantastic third album.”
This release chronicles the final date of Arcade Fire’s 2010 tour, part of the Festival MTV Galicia 2010 held at the anmphitheatre-like, 30,000-40,000 capacity outdoor venue of the Auditorio Monte do Gozo. The event also featured Cornelius 1960, The Temper Trap and Echo And the Bunnymen. It was Arcade Fire’s first visit to Spain in three years and the show was played to a large and enthusiastic audience. Part of the eighteen-song concert was shown on television and the broadcast element is mirrored on this CD. The first three songs were the first, fifth and seventh numbers respectively, and the remainder constitute the latter part of the set from the twelfth song to the end of the show.
Appropriately enough this CD begins with Ready To Start, the second track from The Suburbs, a song, featuring, as described by John Doran on The Quietus website, as characterized by its, “fuzzy vocals, noisy, rushing guitars and banks of woozy synthesizer noise, lyrics that yearn for the safety of a warm feeling but half-forgotten childhood.” In the breezy, boisterous version here, Regine Chassagne takes to the drummer’s stool, joining regular drummer Jeremy Gara to contribute a second drum part which adds weight to the prominent gutars.
Next up we have the quirky, spiky rhythms of Haiti. Chassagne assumes vocal duties on this song about her parents’ homeland, from which they emigrated during the dictatorship of “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Her voice has an overtly vulnerable quality which seems to mask an inner strengh, revealed as the song builds. The audience claps along to the wordless backing vocal section near the end before Chassgne returns and, led by the abrasive strings of Sarah Neufeld and Marika Shaw, the song grinds to a dissonant halt. This is followed by what Pitchfork reviewer Ian Cohen calls the “deceptively chipper chamber pop” of Rococo, with its dig at “modern kids” given to “using long words they don’t understand.” Doran maintains that it comers across as a synthesis of Spiritualized and ELO. Butler takes over again on vocals here, as the song builds in intensity from its dramy, hypnotic beginning.
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), one of four such-named pieces from Funeral, is decribed by Pitchfork reviewer David Moore as, “sumptuously theatrical…the gentle hum of an organ, undulating strings, and repetition of a simple piano figure suggest the discreet unveiling of an epic.” Chassagne is back behind the drums for this song, which Butler introduces by saying how much the band loves playing in Spain. The next song, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) is one of a brace of two-part compositions on The Suburbs, but appears alone here. Butler switches from guitar to keybords for a song which has stirred comparisons with disco music and Abba. Mackay refers to it as, “over exuberant, ABBA-ish disco pop,” and Observer reviewer Kitty Empire concurs, with reference to it as a “disco tune” and a “terrific surprise Abba turn.” However, surely the relevant comparison is not with Abba, but with Blondie in disco mode, as the song bears a distinct resemblance to Heart Of Glass, though Chasssagne’s vocals come across as more fragile and delicate than those of Debbie Harry.
We Used To Wait is compared by Doran with the music of Supertramp and 10cc, with its “plinking pianos and staccato new wave guitar riff.” (I can see the similarity to Supertramp with regard to the piano, though I recall neither group being renowned for “new wave” guitar.) Mackay calls it “garage-punk,” and Guardian writer Alex Petridis refers to it as, “taut, post-new wave rock.” This energetic performance of the song is followed by Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), described by Moore as, “a shimmering, audacious anthem that combines a driving pop beat, ominous guitar assault, and sprightly glockenspiel decoration into a passionate, fist-pumping album manifesto.” The band’s performance is stunning in what is, for me, the highlight of the set and it leads directly into Rebellion (Lies), which keeps energy levels high and is a fine conclusion to the main set.
Keep The Car Running, which kicks off the encore, is the first of the two Neon Bible songs on this CD and its jaunty sound is provided by Butler’s mandolin and Chassagne’s hurdy-gurdy. The concert then concludes with Wake Up, its relatively slow beginning sounding suitably anthemic and the faster second section injecting some excitement to the end os the show. Lucia Gonzalez and Jose A. Navas, covering the show for El Mundo, refer to it simply as “a classic.” The show was well received in the Spanish press, Gonzalez and Navas, for example, enthusing at the way band members, “seem to multiply on stage, mixing instruments and oozing energy.”
The four bonus tracks are derived from the band’s appearance at the Reading Festival a week before. The performance garnered critical acclaim in all sections of the British press. Nadia Mendoza and Carl Stroud, writing in tabloid paper The Sun, referred to the band’s “spine-tinglingly joyful set,” which constituted, “a highlight of the weekend.” Wirting for the broadsheet, The Telegraph, Andrew Perry states that, “their epic, stadium-filling anthems rang out with subtlety, eccentricity and…heart bursting joy.” The bonus tracks begin with energetic, enthusiastic renditions of Neighborhood #2 (Laika), characterized by Moore as “conventionally rock-oriented,” and No Cars Go, the second song here from Neon Bible. Then comes the mid-paced Modern Man, a song compared by Doran to the work of Tom Petty. The disc ends with a splendid performance of the title track from The Suburbs, which contains the line which gives this release its title and which features, as Petridis puts it, ” a sing-song melody, over Neil Young-ish piano and lazily strummed acoustic guitar.”
Both sets of tracks feature excellent, full and clear stereo sound taken from television broadcasts. The disc is packaged in Godfather’s customary tri-fold sleeve, the front cover of which combines the artwork of The Suburbs with a shot of the band on stage. Further onstage photographs grace the remainder of the sleeve and the rear also has small, individual offstage shots of band members, together with the track listing. The sleeve has no notes and there is no booklet.
With fine performances, impressive sound and attractive packaging, this release will appeal strongly to committed Arcade Fire fans; in addition to these qualities, the judicious combination of songs from all three albums (six each from Funeral and The Suburbs and two from their weakest effort, Neon Bible), may also make this CD, rather than any of those official relases, a good starting point for the curious newcomer.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)