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A memory, a moment to carry with you

8 Jul

The blog was dead.

It’s nearly been two years.  I don’t know why I stopped blogging but the reasons to start again are simple.

Yesterday I saw Arcade Fire once again in the fantastic setting of the Hackney Empire, playing as well as I’ve ever heard them….I’m tempted to say better than ever before but my head’s not thinking straight.  I am buzzing, in a spin, swept away by a band that made me fall in love with music, and that reaffirmed to me last night  that they are truly very special.  It will take a long time to better the experience of having stood, clapped, danced, jumped, swayed, stretched out my arms and sung my lungs out,  all in the front row two metres from Win’s microphone, alive in the moment – wrapped up in glow of the best live band I’ve ever seen.

No support necessary.  It was a parallel of those early shows back at St John’s Church in Westminster – cold, grey January days when the band decided to test out their new Neon Bible songs to small London audiences.  But as much as i couldn’t stop reminiscing about those very special shows, yesterday it was a different band on stage – a parallax maybe.  Same band, different perspective.  In the warm, still summer evening they took to the stage with a confidence that underlined a more relaxed, more playful band – none of the nervous fervour of January 2007.   I had staved off listening to bootlegs of the new songs.  So besides the four officially released songs, the new material was just that.

Abandoned Californian Suburbs

Pained and angry, yet upbeat, opener Ready To Start sounded tight, mature, bristling with an restrained energy that oscillated between the dark and the light..“business men drinking my blood, like the kids in our|art school said the would/ But I guess we’ll just begin again/ You said we’d still be friends.” One of my favourite lyrical moments of the new songs comes just about halfway through the song, a simple little verse which poignantly captures a feeling I’m sure so many of us have felt as kids and teenagers, even as adults. “Now you’re knocking at my door/ Saying please come out with us tonight/ But I’d rather be alone/ Than pretend I feel alright.” That’s when Win Butler is so strong as a lyricist – it’s the intimate reflections on growing up that stick in the mind – not the grand, thematic questionings of Neon Bible.  As the song then swells up with an almost violent kick it’s clear that whilst Funeral was concerned with keeping within the imaginative world of the childhood psyche, The Suburbs’ subtler, more sophisticated approach balances the past with the present – the adult mind that holds such memories of growing up is there – watching, waiting and breathing just below the surface.

Arcade Fire – Ready to Start by MiscMusic

David Lynch's Blue Velvet

Then into Modern ManRichard Reed Parry playing a beautiful, beautiful looking and sounding guitar.  Not as immediately enamouring as Ready To Start, but a great beat with a  soul/motowny lilt, Regine dancing away between the synths, Sarah and Marika moving to the playful, stop start rhythm and Win singing a oh-so Arcade Fire-y monologue.  Next,  Laika made sure the crowd were under the spell of the band – the first song I ever fell in love with.  A song which seems as if it had been with me forever, a tune I’m sure I hummed as a five year old – and which, on hearing it for the first time, felt like it had been written just for me.

No Cars Go and Haiti followed.  The string of three classic songs a reminder of just how incredible the band’s early work is.  They did seem to establish a divide between the old and new, but the band played both with such conviction and passion and care that it’s clear come the next time I see them (hopefully) such a division is unlikely to exist.

Empty Room has all the promise of a great great song, but the vocals were too low – Regine and Win drowned out by the shimmering noise of four guitars and a drum kit.  Something really beautiful could be sensed, but it was too far back in the sound to see and hear its shape and form.  Similarly Rococo suffered a bit from low vocals and excessively quiet strings, but it’s rolling, mechanical wind up was spine tingling – the release joyously rebellious, brash and full.  Harpsichord like horror movie keyboard chords swelled into a chorus as if an army of  awoken spirits had declared war on auto-tune.  Like Wake Up, Keep the Car Running and so many other songs, the vocal chorus, the unashamedly raw sound of a band and an audience singing pure sound (ohhh, ahhhs, laasss, all beyond words, all universal) swept up from the stage to the starry ceiling of the theatre.

The Suburbs/Suburban War combo slowed the pace. The lazy, summery roll of the title track translating better live than some earlier shows suggested. But still a rare weak point in the night; however, on the plus side it offered a moment to admire the Spike Jonze visuals on the billboard style tv screen above the stage.  There is something so delicate and precise about the record version that didn’t come across live.  It’ll be exciting to see how it ends up as a live song vs a album song, in the way that Haiti live and on record are two different creatures.  Suburban War sounded good, but not especially memorable, despite a brilliant shift in mood towards the end of the song.

Intervention has never been a favourite of mine, but the crowd loved it – the bombast and hyperbolic lyrics just about managing to fill the venue.

We Used to Wait has been my highlight from the singles released so far, and live it was equally fascinating.  It really seems to mark an exciting change in direction.  Again, motown influences can be heard, but disco beats too, a dark dance-y pulse drifting through the chorus in a way that still retains a rock feel.  I doubt it’ll be the song I listen to the most off the album, but it seems like an important step for the band.  Electronic elements are incorporated in a way which stays true to the instrumental pedantry we are so used to from the band.  It’s a song which really underlines the older/younger dual viewpoint I mentioned earlier on and talks of a type of growing up which isn’t just from childhood to adulthood, but from early adulthood into a person’s 30s.  It also seems to reflect that band and the conflicts they face as artists with huge critical as well as growing commercial success.  “Now our lives are changing fast/Now our lives are changing fast/Hope that something pure can last/Hope that something pure can last”

And so, as the gig heads toward its end Powellion and new song Month of May keep the crowd on dancing for 13 or so minutes.  The first two songs as fun, passionate and perfect as ever and Month of May sure to become a live staple – something far greater live than on record – barely contained energy pushing the song towards a precipitous position – chaotic and frenetic and brilliant.

And then the encore.

I don’t think I’ll even bother describing it.  It was just perfect.  The crowd were smiling, the band were smiling. Everyone screaming their hearts out.

—————————————-

Ready To Start
Modern Man
Laika
No Cars Go
Haiti
Empty Room
Rococo
Suburbs
Suburban War
Intervention
We Used To Wait
Power Out -> Rebellion
Month of May
….
Crown of Love
Tunnels
KTCR
Wake Up

We Used To Wait by Arcade Fire

Rainy Days

9 Sep

 

painting.jpg

Random…painting i did ages ago

Bjork-Unravel

 

Sigur Ros- Refur

 

School’s started so i’m in an odd mood. Nice to be learning again, but university stuff kicking in. Anyway, Los Campesinos! to look forward to in a week weeks! And just seen Broken Social Scene doing Kevin Drew’s new stuff which was fun, but nothing amazing.

 

Broken Social Scene present Kevin Drew’s Spirit If: Frightening Lives (mp3 Sendspace)

A/ Thee Silver Mt. Zion…

28 Apr

Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band: live

Some plans and ideas seem to end up having everything stacked against them, and somehow it all manages to turn out alright. School was ok, but nothing extraordinary, the bus ride home was hell. I got splattered in ink and was carrying four bags and small art portfolio case. I got home and the internet was down so I couldn’t check if anyone wanted my spare ticket for tonight’s ASMZ gig in my hometown!! It was always meant to be special. ASMZ, a slither of Gospeed!, of tiny bit Montreal in the town where i live. But home seemed to have different ideas. After waiting 40mins for a bus i started walking/running. Asked someone about 5 request stops along if they’d been waiting long: 48 mins… So i got to the station and hopped on another bus into town. Ran a bit more to the venue and got there with just enough time to get something to eat and get a good place.

I wasn’t 100% up for the gig, even though i was pumped the day before. The spare ticket had been bugging me. I didn’t want to go alone, but in the end did. I couldn’t refund it, couldn’t find anyone (everyone seemed to want to go but just “couldn’t”). Today I also found out just before I went out that my mum was at the hospital, nothing seemingly serious, but hospital nonetheless. So my mind was slightly preoccupied. But ASMZ was the perfect…remedy? I don’t know. Maybe a way of looking at things. For the the first time ever during the music, the instrumental sections in particular, I kept seeing flashing images/ flashbacks in my mind’s eye.

The initially quiet, reserved, unwelcoming crowd took a while to get clapping and cheering and the first three songs were beautiful but received with clapping and then silence, in contrast to the footstamping, cheering, whooping and applauding for the encore. Mainly compromising new songs, only a few people were aware of the structure of the songs. Opener 13 Blues for 13 Moons was the lowlight of the night, but still a string driven thought-warping epic which was followed by the very impressive older number Mountains Made of Steam. Those 10 or so minutes were just beautifully solemn and an elegiac like aural panorama of the rising, falling, frothing sea. Emotionally I felt myself strangely affected for a song I’d never heard before by a band who I’m not really aware of all the recorded material. The next song, Engine Broke, was my highlight. A beautifully slow building, almost schizophrenic journey, with a drum line which sounded more poppy than any other ASMZ song to date. It was followed by a good performance of Take These Hands And Throw Them In The River, again characteristic of the relationship between swooping and jarring strings, bass lines and half melodies, vocal harmonies and harshly sung lines, which represent the model of ASMZ we’ve come to expect.

Engine Broke

Erfin had a few words before the newly written A Million Died To This Sound, a filmic dramatic number. Frontman Erfin referred to the often ridiculous nature of the internet, hype and “hometown heroes”. Someone in the crowd shouted The View but the band just knew the name as some American TV show with menopausal women rather than the “shit scottish band”, which brought some genuine humour to the evening, but I wonder if Efrin’s hometown heroes could just be…well, you know…AF. And guess how I first heard of ASMZ.

Encore Blind, Blind, Blind had the audience captivated and hypnotised. Erfin’s impassioned vocals were really effectively used here and it was a great way to finish- haunting, cinematic and mesmerising. Everything had turned out far more than alright.

Days like these

12 Apr

I don’t have that much to say these days, at least on ecological terms. School is…euggh… right now. But it’s spring holidays. Easter’s just gone and I realised i wasted the first half of the holidays studying when I should be having fun. Went to see Midlake play last night though, which was good, but in the light of two consecutive nights of beautiful arcade fire mayhem at brixton…well, slight disappointment. Then again i didn’t lose a shoe mid gig, i wasn’t hoarse the next day and i didn’t destroy my calves by pogoing for 90 mins non stop.

Midlake

It was a good set, really beautiful, and once I took it for what it was, it was definately worth it.

But nonetheless I still feel completely without purpose right now. The world seems to drift towards me and the part as if i’m some plain, black rock in the middle of a muddy, unextraordinary river. And it sucks. Higher education decisions, schoolwork, “other” commitments; they just seem to sap the fun out of me.

But, the funny thing is most of the time i’m cheerful. And why? Well, i’m starting to fall in love with nature, which is just making me more impassioned about the environment ..et al. I used to be a animal freak. One of those kids you get who’s seven years old and knows the latin name for an Aoxtl…ha, i was sad(der).

Anyway, I lay in a field yesterday just staring at the sky. And no, i wasn’t high, but it was just so beautiful. I always stare at the sky, but never at the same spot for ten minutes. And it’s made me want to just appreciate it all more. Nature’s an incredible thing, yet I hide away on the internet, or damage it by solely living in the industrialised society in which i carry out my daily life.

So, stare at the sky. Lie in a field.