Tag Archives: Arcade Fire

Bowie Collaborations: “Wake Up” With Arcade Fire

Back in 2005, Arcade Fire was your favorite artist’s favorite new band.  U2 regularly played “Wake Up” as the song they walked on the stage to during their Vertigo Tour.  Not only did they also open for U2 as the tour progressed, they also came on stage with the band to play Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.   David Bowie regularly talked Arcade Fire up as his favorite new band, and Funeral’s sound owed a lot to The Thin White Duke.

Songs such as “Neighbor Hood # 1” and “Rebellion (Lies)” reminded me structurally of “Heroes” when I first heard them.  All of those songs start out slow, and slowly build into a crescendo – but there’s never a specific moment when you can pinpoint exactly where this takes place. The songs take you for a ride, and before you’ve even realized it you’ve hit 90 mph.

It’s little wonder then that Arcade Fire would actually team up with Arcade Fire for a few songs.  At the Fashion Rocks show in 2005, Bowie and Arcade Fire performed two Bowie classics (“Five Years & “Life on Mars?”) along with Arcade Fire’s de facto anthem, “Wake Up”.

While it’s clear that “Wake Up” is Arcade Fire’s song, Bowie isn’t just guesting on this version.  The way he takes on the chorus, and much of the lead vocals suggests that he is taking this song back from Arcade Fire, and making it his own.  The version of the other songs aren’t nearly as energetic – Arcade Fire plays the songs well – but Bowie seems to really take on “Arcade Fire”.  It’s almost as if he was suggesting that even Bowie imitators can’t out-due the real thing, even with original songs.

Bowie & Arcade Fire: “Wake Up”



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Arcade Fire at Merriweather 8/6/10

(Sorry about the blurry image.  Best I could do.)

Arcade Fire might be the best band in the world right now.  I had heard they were fantastic live, but I was really impressed by their energy last night.  Shows like this make me dislike the use of jumbotrons (or whatever the hell you call the big screens).  It focused too much on frontman Win Butler (who is a very good frontman but not great).  Arcade Fire is very much an ensemble group.  Members switched instruments quite often, and one point two one of of the members were banging on the same bass drum.   It was hard to take everything in.

I’ve only heard “The Suburbs” twice, and was impressed.  It’s not quite as good as the magnificent debut  “Funeral” but it’s a huge improvement on the bloated and self-important “Neon Bible”.  The new songs really worked live – except for “Half Light II” which was abandoned early due to a malfunctioning drum machine.  Luckily, Win Butler laughed it off and the band continued without much of a pout (unlike Ryan Adams or Kings of Leon who chickened out after getting pelted with pigeon shit.)

The last section of the show was the most impressive.  “Neighborhood # 3” got an extended ending that segued right into the fan-favorite “Rebellion”.  Using “Wake Up” as the closing song was the right choice.  This is the song that got them into the public consciousness, as most people heard this song first when it was used as the walk-on song during U2’s 2005 “Vertigo Tour”.

I’m not sure whether Arcade Fire will be big as Coldplay, or Kings of Leon, but they don’t have.  They proved last night they belong in the same room as other titans of rock.

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Quick Update

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while.  Been busy (well and taking a small vacation to Florida.)  Tomorrow night I’m going to see Arcade Fire at Merriweather, so I’m pretty pumped about that.  I streamed The Suburbs the other day, but haven’t purchased it.  So I’m interested to see how the show plays out and what the songs sound like live.  Has anyone else heard the new album?  Thoughts?

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I Need A New Band To Obsess Over

While I sometimes pride myself on liking older artists, I find it hard to get into newer or current artists.  There have been very few “new” artists that I have really been impressed with in the past few years (Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, My Morning Jacket).  And I while I love records by all of those artists, I’ve also worn them to death.  None of these groups have a vast  catalogue I can explore and discover new things about.  They also don’t have the same nostalgia for me like a group like R.E.M. does.

I really need a new group because I miss the excitement that they bring to a live show.  I’ve pretty much seen all of my old heroes live at one point or another (or several times) and while I absolutely love hearing “Like a Rolling Stone”, or “Where The Streets Have No Name”, it’s not the same as somebody new coming along and absolutely killing it live.  I want that seem feeling that I had in 2005 when I first saw Kings of Leon before they blew up and became radio favorites.  Perhaps I just want to be part of the cultural zeitgeist before it actually happens.

Does anyone know of any new good groups I could listen to?


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A Look Back At Arcade Fire’s “Funeral”

I recently saw that Arcade Fire is going to be playing Merriweather Post Pavilion this August promoting their new album The Suburbs. As long as it doesn’t sell out, I will definitely be going  – plus you all know how I feel about Merriweather. Arcade Fire’s Funeral for me, is one of the defining albums of the 2000’s.  A lot of people might suggest that Death Cab For Cutie bought indie rock to the mainstream, but Arcade Fire really opened up the possibilities of what indie rock could do in the new century.  Funeral retains an indie mindset, but has the anthemic qualities of U2, Wyn Butler sings in style similar to David Bowie, yet it sounds completely original.  And 6 years after its initial release, it hasn’t lost any of its power that made it a wonderful listen the first time I heard it.

Like many people who attended U2’s Vertigo Tour in 2005, I wondered what the hell was that song that played as the band walked on the stage?  (If you went to any of those shows, you know what I’m talking about.)  It was the sound of a dozen voices singing in chant-like unison, with a simple guitar riff played underneath.  “Wake Up” is so big, ambitious, and simple, and it’s a song that has always seemed to exist.  After I found out the name of the song, I quickly went out and bought Funeral.  (Arcade Fire had been on my radar for a while, and though Funeral received fantastic reviews, I wasn’t sure about the title.)

Like many who have gone out and bought albums based on one single-song, I was afraid Funeral would be a bust.  Instead, I found an album that had a theme of loss yet retained an optimism.  For a debut album, Funeral also sounds like the third or fourth album by a band – it’s a very mature.  “Neighborhood #1” and “Rebellion (Lies)” both start off slow, but  reach a Spector-ish wall-of-sound by the end of the song.  Both songs gradually grow louder – that is it hard to pinpoint exactly when exactly what seems to be a ballad turns into a monster of a song. .  “Wake Up” might have been the song that got me into Arcade Fire, but “Rebellion” is the true masterpiece of the album.   I’m not sure if the song has a traditional verse-chorus structure. In fact its 5 minutes seem to build around Wynn singing, “everytime you close your eyes,” constrasted by Regine’s repeating, lies, lies” in the background.  But like Bowie’s “Heroes”, it’s the tension and the build-up that gives the song its ultimate pay-off.

By the time Neon Bible came out a few years later, I should have known better than to expect something as good as Funeral. Very few artists are able to create back-to-back masterpieces (and yes, I count Funeral as one of rock’s masterpieces).  But Neon Bible was not only disappointing because it wasn’t Funeral, but also because it seemed unmemorable, pretentious, and most offensively of all – bland. Arcade Fire to me, is many things but bland is not one of them.  I’m looking forward to The Suburbs, and hope Arcade Fire will bring out another masterpiece.

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