Arcade Fire’s love for Montreal – including the crowd of over 100,000 who came out to Quartier des Spectacles last night – was clear as soon as they walked on stage, smiling ear to ear and bouncing into Ready to Start, from their Grammy-winning album The Suburbs. Images of teenage rebellion among suburban sprawl played on screens behind the eight-member band, who seemed intent on eradicating world-wide malaise themselves. “Our hearts are very full right now,” lead singer Win Butler said, and he meant it. Arcade Fire was home.
“Chers amis,” Régine Chassagne addressed the crowd in French, taking in the sight with open arms and a huge smile, “Montreal, c’est vraiment cool.” And we knew she meant it – it’s not every day that a band this big puts on a free show in the middle of downtown, pairing up with decade-long festival Pop Montreal and Haiti-rebuilding program Kanpe, and opening with home-town awesome greats Kid Koala and Karkwa.
The Montreal love didn’t end there: the band welcomed on stage one of their personal heroes, Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, one of the main organizations Montrealers fundraised for after the Haiti earthquake and continue to work with – he let us know that Haiti says “Merci, Montreal, merci.” And then we all sang and danced along with Wake Up.
And kept singing and dancing along for the rest of the almost two-hour show, through We Used to Wait, right into Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) and high-energy encores Lies and Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) as Moment Factory‘s multicolored light-up inflatable balls bounced over the crowd and Regine spun onstage in a crinolined hot-pink dress straight out of what I can only image to be the best circus in the world. Sparkly good times in the city. In the middle of winter, this memory might even keep us warm.
To check out all of Susan Moss’ photos from the Arcade Fire show at Pop Montreal check out the Montreal Buzz Flickr.