I saw Arcade Fire back in May 2007, the last time they came to Portland, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The venue was perfect, the sound was perfect and the band kept the audience engaged with almost every note. It was one of those magical nights that you always hope for but never can expect.
I saw the band again in September of that year, on the same tour, at the Hollywood Bowl. While I liked the show at the Hollywood Bowl, something got lost as it scaled to the big venue. Somehow the intimacy and magic present at the Schnitz was completely absent at the Hollywood Bowl.
Flash forward three years and Arcade Fire is simply on fire. They went from one of the biggest buzz bands around to one of the top bands performing. For The Suburbs tour, this necessitated a move to bigger venues and larger arenas for their shows.
Acutely aware of the issues with scaling their shows, Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara admitted to fears to NME that the band wouldn’t “connect” with fans when they play big arenas. This combined with the fact that the Portland stop on their tour was booked at the Memorial Coliseum made me a little hesitant about seeing their show. The Coliseum isn’t Portland’s best venue (the best happens to be the Schnitzer) and it can really have significant acoustical problems.
Given how good the band was the last time around and how good their new album “The Suburbs” is, I decided I absolutely had to give it a try.