The Arcade Fire afterglow continues to…glow…unabated. How’s about a wonderful show review (and pics) from Paige Parsons? Thanks Paige!
…It’s a night I’ll never forget. It began with a 2 1/2 hr road trip down the coast to Big Sur. As my car hugged the narrow curves of Highway 1, it was hard to keep my eyes on the road. I was in awe of the view and the air smelled so fresh and salty. I got all giddy thinking about it all, “What a treat for all the senses, and this is just the beginning…” I wasn’t just driving down the coast aimlessly; I’d come for a singular purpose: to see Arcade Fire at The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably well aware that there were only 300 tickets available for this uberhuge band at this quaint and tiny venue.
Arcade Fire opened with a reflective ‘The Suburbs’ sporting Win at the back of the stage on vocals and piano. Everyone was in fine form, and each song seemed to involve even more instrument swapping than usual.
I’m amazed that the band’s energy was at least as high as it had been at the 8,500 person Greek Theater show the previous Saturday. At that show, Will had grabbed a drum and ran around the lip of the bowl. Half way into the set, Will grabbed the aforementioned drum, but to my surprise, he didn’t head for the fans, it appeared a fan headed for him. I’m used to the usual drunk guy storming the stage and figured there’s always one in every crowd.
However, it quickly became clear that this wasn’t a rabid fan but a shill from their crew (the backstage pass on his chest gave it away.) They tussled like two energetic puppies, with big grunts and grins, throwing shoes, grabbing and shoving each other for the length of the song.
On this special night, we were treated to an expanded lineup thanks to a guest appearance by woodwind and brass player extraordinnaire Colin Stetson. He’d toured with the group on Neon Bible, and was a session musician on the Suburbs. Stetson was also the evening’s opener, performing 20 minutes of looped other-worldly lung-busting instrumental baritone saxophone.
Win got more chatty as the night went on. He told of a special connection he has with Big Sur because of a well-beloved teacher who was a friend of the infamous Big Sur beatnik, Ferlinghetti. Win was also full of praise for their crew that had made the show possible. His longest banter centered on the weather. “We were going to sound-check, but then it started raining, so we didn’t,” said a resigned Win. “It’s alright.”
“OK, all together – NO RAIN!” Win exclaimed. “It better not f—ing rain,” Win mused, looking up at the sky as he began to lovingly besmirch the California crowd. “I trusted you. I was told you had a power crystal! Don’t f—ing rain! Where’s your magic crystal now?” The stars were still clearly visible above all our heads, and it hadn’t rained in months, so the light spray of raindrops was a mystery to us all.
Towards the end of the night a light drizzle finally did arrive as the band was playing what was supposed to be the final song before their encore. Clearly the road crew had prepared for this moment as they began bringing out large plastic sheets to protect the equipment. Win explained “We’re supposed to leave now and come back and do two more songs, but we’re just going to go ahead right now and play just one. Does anyone know of a good place in LA to buy music equipment?”
They closed the night (as all good Arcade Fire concerts do) with the powerful anthem, ‘Wake Up.’ As the last notes wafted up into the now clearing sky, The band waved goodbye to the small crowd, Win and Régine smiled and reached down into the crowd to shake the many adoring hands. Win ended up leaving by stepping down off the small stage and into the intimate crowd, walking through the small dark crowd and up the stairs to the patio as he made his way to the impromptu backstage area behind the Library.
Soon after Win came back out to the library porch to chat and sign all sorts of random items. As I approached, he was signing a smashed penny for a guy who shared a birthday the next day with Will. He then signed a cigarette pack for a fan from LA, and he was kind enough to sign am Arcade Fire tote bag for yours truly.