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”