Arcade Fire – Live At The Roundhouse: Review

Win Butler Arcade Fire smiling The Reflektors
Win Butler of Arcade Fire at The Roundhouse last night. Photos and video (except email below) by Every Record Tells A Story


“Costumes or Formal Attire Mandatory”

Aracde Fire email

I’ll admit my heart sank just a little when I saw this email from The Reflektors – the secret name that Arcade Fire are touring under to promote their new album. It rather reeked of “organised fun”, “team building off-sites” and the girl guides. Putting on my Sunday best only to have beer thrown on me in a seething indie moshpit wouldn’t exactly be the best way to extend the life of my Ozwald Boateng threads. Even if I had any.

On the other hand, dressing up can be fun if you’re in the mood and you get the right costume: just ask Prince Harry. Actually, perhaps not.

Arcade Fire Mariachi band
That really is Win Butler in the middle – singing (badly I have to say) Reflektor in voodoo mask disguise with a mariachi band as we filed in to the Roundhouse

So honouring the request in the breach rather than the observance, as some playwright chap once put it, I sallied forth to the wonderful Camden Roundhouse to negotiate the snaking queue, and the mariachi band who belted out a splendid version of Reflektor on our entrance. Intriguingly, the singer of the mariachi band was wearing not only a) a voodoo mask like the one in Live and Let Die but b) the same pair of trousers that Win Butler wore onstage. Coincidence? (No – it really was him apparently!)

Want to see a video clip and check for yourself? Here’s a video clip I took of Win singing with the mariachi band:

Happily, plenty of people did dress up as requested and the gig took on a party atmosphere. Here’s what everybody else looked like:

Aracde Fire gorilla costume

…and this…


And what of The Reflektors? (OK, let’s call them what they are: Arcade Fire). Because, make no mistake, we weren’t all here, as Ray Davies might have put it “to take pictures of each other”. With all due respect to The Rolling Stones, this was the hot ticket of the year, with the world’s biggest indie band – Arcade Fire – trying to fit their indie anthems into a venue several sizes too small for them (picture Jonny Vegas attempting to put on Kylie Minogue’s hot pants from the Spinning Around video. Actually, don’t). I spotted Coldplay’s Chris Martin checking out the competition as Arcade Fire used the evening to unveil their new material in a warm up, no doubt, for a bigger tour next year. How would the new material stand up against old favourites? Would they even all fit on the stage?

Arcade Fire Reflektors

“Reflektor” opened the show strongly, with front man Win Butler sporting the first of many masks, this one a shiny glitterball affair to match the ones hanging from the ceiling of The Roundhouse. It was no less daft than the penguin mask he later sported after grabbing one from the crowd.

Arcade Fire Rflektor Camden Roundhouse 12 Nov
Regine looks on disapprovingly as Win tries on his new invisibility suit

After “Flashbulb Eyes” came the first oldie from the set: Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out), from the Funeral album. What a tune! By now the crowd was jumping and the brave souls who turned up in Gorilla suits were starting to feel a little warm.

Win Butler Arcade Fire 3

“We Exist” was a highlight – a terrific song that Butler explained was about the awkwardness between a gay son and his father. Meanwhile the front ten rows had picked up on some hand waving routine from the video…

Regine Chassagne Arcade Fire

Of the new songs, which dominated the set, “Joan of Arc”, “Afterlife” and a finale of “Here Comes The Night Time” complete with shower of confetti stood out, whilst the band played a surprising cover of The Clash song “I’m So Bored With The USA“. Butler wore an oversized paper mâché head, perhaps in tribute to the late Frank Sidebottom (but probably not) during this song, taking photos with cameras from the crowd and flipping them the bird.

Win Butler Arcade Fire with big head
Win used his special shrinking machine on his bass player…

Régine Chassagne then took centre stage for a fantastic version of Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) for the encore. She belted it out, smiling, with much aplomb and even more charm – before the show ended on Supersymmetry.

Win Butler and head Arcade Fire
Win finds this interviewing lark is much harder work than he thought it would be…

This was a fantastic showcase for the new album and a rare chance to see a big band in a small venue – something which is always a good thing. The Reflektors continue to tour the UK – catch them if you can.

Record #253: Arcade Fire – We Exist

Last night’s Arcade Fire set list (12th November at The Camden Roundhouse)

  • Reflektor
  • Flashbulb Eyes
  • Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
  • Joan of Arc
  • You Already Know
  • We Exist
  • It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)
  • Afterlife featuring snippet of ‘Porno’ in the intro
  • Haïti
  • Normal Person
  • I’m So Bored With The U.S.A.
  • Here Comes The Night Time
  • Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
  • Supersymmetry


4 responses to “Arcade Fire – Live At The Roundhouse: Review”

  1. Avatar

    Wow! Reminds me of a Flaming Lips show.

    Hope I get a chance to see this tour.


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      I think they just announced a US tour…


  2. E E Avatar
    E E

    Listened to Reflektor today and remembered that I was dancing in front of the stage at Roundhouse together with a mysterious gorilla in a light shirt who was kind of protecting me against the crowd. Then he disappeared. So I googled out of curiousity Arcade Fire Roundhouse Gorilla and came here. And that must be him! I’ll never forget this and thanks for capturing this night!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Excellent! A pleasure – it was a great evening wasn’t it?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: