Spoon, Arcade Fire, and I all have something in common. We first stepped foot into Madison Square Garden for the first time last night! And like me, both bands were in complete awe of where they've been and what they now have become. It's hard to believe that two bands who have made two back to back amazing albums well received by fans and critics alike can still have milestone moments, but here we all are sharing the same magical moment. And it truly was a magical night that began with a boy, a violin, and a loop machine....
Owen Pallett set the night off right. He had me at violin and the loop machine. I'm sure it has a more official name, but I am calling it a loop machine. My understanding is that you program the machine to record a desired length of music into the machine and it will play that part for as long as you'd like it over and over again. You can create as many of these bits as you'd like and build it on top of each other creating a whole song with all the layers. Owen played about a half hour of strings delight and I was pleasantly surprised and happy that I got to see this little musical appetizer. He brought out a buddy to lend drum and guitar support. The latter had technical difficulties and Owen was disappointed that the guitar had failed for what he thought was in front of thousands of people. He must have forgotten where he was because New Yorkers don't go to concerts to see the openers. Even Spoon didn't get all of Madison Square Garden's attention. It's just not hip to see the openers, I guess. Their lose though, because Spoon delivered, big time!
The one thing I can say about Spoon is they turn New York on! I think it's because Spoon IS rock 'n' roll right now. Seriously, everyone but me was making out to Spoon. Britt does have a charming voice and electric persona, often engaging the crowd with finger points to a few lucky audience members. Kicking off the Spoon set with just Britt himself and an acoustic guitar warming everyone up for a great set. Wish I could get my hands on a set list for you all, but alas I can not seem to track one down. Highlight of their set was Gimme Fiction's "I turn My Camera On" and "You got Yr. Cherry Bomb" from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The latter song was accompanied with a horn section that disappeared and then reappeared throughout the hour long set. Spoon could easily fill this Garden on their own headlining tour and I am sure this time next year, we'll be seeing that.
At this point in the night we check how much time we have for Arcade Fire. The Long Island Rail Road will leave us behind if we aren't out of MSG by 11:42pm. They have 1 hr and 14 minutes. Arcade Fire reveals a screen and their own set of flashing lights that could have come from Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief" tour. The stage comes alive and it takes a moment for all 9 members to get into place. "Ready to Start" seems like the obvious choice and that's how they kick it off! Win leads the crowd in hand claps for the first song of the set and first played from the latest album "Suburban." One thing becomes quiet clear to a new audience member of an Arcade Fire concert. You suddenly become a participant! Check Youtube for any song played at this show and you will hear the crowd singing along. Example taken from the third song "No Cars Go." It's laced with frequent staccato "Hey!" throughout and the every fan out there knew when to come in on it. By the time a sentimental fav "Haiti" was done I thought if for any reason this show had to end, I would still be honored to have witnessed Arcade Fire. Speaking of the song Haiti, every dollar from the tickets sold for the show went to the still ravaged country and other organizations like Doctors without Boundaries were on hand to inform fans of a nation that still needs our attention and help. Back on track, thankfully the show continued with 2 more songs off the new album. "Crown of Love" came on and slow dancing was all abound. A song about unrequited love brings out the romantic in a New York hipster and you could feel it in the air. Can I just say, even on a slow waltzy love song, Arcade Fire pounds it out with electricity! I swear one member's only job is to be Mountain Dew's Amp's human incarnate. He bangs on a drum, yells through a megaphone, and gets to dance around the stage. Now to my personal highlight. Neighborhood #3/Rebellion (Lies) combo. It started off with Win recalling his favorite MSG moment of the Houston Rockets vs. the Knicks. He had the biggest grin on his face as the Knicks fans went from "Boooooo-yaaaaa!" as Neighborhood #3 came in and quickly the fans forgave him. At the end of that song, the craziest crashendo buildup lead into Rebellion (Lies) and rhythmic claps ensued. Chants of "Lies, Lies" from the audience coupled with Arcade Fire at their best, even the cotton candy vendor was rocking out. The show could have ended there for me. I did make it to the see the last song of the set before the LIRR took off. I see today that I missed "Wake Up" as the last song of the encore.
I had pretty large expectations from this show and it delivered above and beyond. The energy was constant and fed the audience making us an equal part of the act. You left wanting more, but pleased to have witnessed what they gave you.
Wish you were there? Youtube is hosting the second night of Spoon/Arcade Fire tonight. Here's a link: youtube.com/arcadefirevevo.
Here's a complete set list from Arcade Fire!