Yes, Arcade Fire has played Las Vegas before, as a headlining act at 2005’s launch of the ill-fated Vegoose music festival. But Thursday night’s performance at the Joint marked the Grammy-winning group’s first stand-alone Sin City show, and, as frontman Win Butler was quick to point out, “It’s been a really long time. In fact, we were hungover, so the first time doesn’t count.”
- Arcade Fire
- The Joint, April 14
Funny? Sure, but the show certainly had all the trappings of a first-time appearance, with a more-than-appreciative capacity crowd fist-pumping, jumping and, yes, crowd-surfing to Arcade Fire’s well-balanced mixture from its three albums. Win and company kept things steamrolling from the start, while Win’s wife, Regine Chassagne, rotated to a different instrument with each new song—drums, tambourine, accordion, hurdy-gurdy—while providing her unparalleled lead and support vocals to instant classics like “The Sprawl II,” “Intervention” and “Haiti.” (The band donates a portion of its proceeds to victims of the Haiti earthquake.)
Anyone who doubts Arcade Fire’s theatrical abilities needs to see them live. Will Butler had some crazy energy during the band’s full-blooded performance of “Rebellion (Lies),” grabbing a small drum, striking it and raising it over his head while screaming “Lies! Lies!” The band supplemented their most operatic material with images on video screens above and behind them. Most striking was a looped black-and-white image of women in water, staring straight at the screen during “No Cars Go.” When they raised their hands to their faces during the “Whoooooooaaaaaaa!” climax, the combination of sound and image was positively goose bump-inducing. By the time the band got to “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out),” the audience was under its command.
And Win enjoyed the chemistry with his audience, even doing a tiny bit of stand-up about how fathers return from business trips with T-shirts from the Hong Kong Hard Rock Café that they got at the Dallas airport: “What a crock of shit that was!”
Win, who celebrated his 31st birthday that night, pleaded with the crowd, “Don’t let me down with the fuckin’ praise!” They didn’t. Here’s hoping Arcade Fire gives Las Vegas a chance to do it again.