Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Arcade Fire at the Wembley Arena, 12 April 2018

Arcade Fire at Wembley Arena 12 April 2018 (1)

How do you describe a concert when it is the realisation of years of yearning and months of anticipation? I waited to see Arcade Fire in concert for the longest time and was ecstatic when I got tickets for the gig at Wembley Arena on 12 April 2018. It was certainly worth the wait as Arcade Fire exceeded all expectations and delivered one of the best performances I have ever seen live.

The Arrival

The concert begins at exactly 8.45pm as Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” rings out over the arena. It soon cuts to “Everything Now (Continued)” as the band make their way to the stage, punching and posing while their heavyweight boxing stats are broadcast on the massive screens above the stage. Spoiler: they are all winners and they never, ever lose.

Finally they are there and they are larger than life and it is time for the night to begin. With a setlist in excess of twenty tracks, it is to be expected that the band is short of time but even so, it feels like they rush through “Everything Now”, “Rebellion (Lies)” and “Here Comes the Night Time”.

Arcade Fire at Wembley Arena 12 April 2018 (2)

I’m relieved when the band takes a breath and Win introduces “Haïti”. Incidentally, I can’t be certain but I think that after explaining the reason behind the song, Win said something along the lines of how the audience at Wembley probably wouldn’t care about that. It’s probably worth mentioning that the British public raised £107m for Haïti so we definitely do care. Nevertheless, “Haïti” is a beautiful track and listening to it live, I almost feel like I’m beside the sea in Port-au-Prince. It’s the first time I really notice how beautiful Régine Chassagne’s vocals are live and so marks the beginning a rather enduring girl crush.

Hitting Their Stride

From this point on, the band really hit their stride and they begin to deliver hit after hit, starting with fan favourite “No Cars Go”. Next up is a pair of my favourites from Everything Now, “Electric Blue” and “Put Your Money On Me” followed by “Crown of Love”.

Arcade Fire at Wembley Arena 12 April 2018 (3)

This is the point where the concert becomes sublime. I’m standing there, singing along to “Ocean of Noise” and “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)” at the top of my lungs, with tears in my eyes, thinking this can’t get any better and then it does.

The Pinnacle

At the end of the evening when my friends and I try to pinpoint the pinnacle of the evening, it will be the next three songs that we unanimously agree upon. It all begins with “The Suburbs”, to roars of jubilation from the crowd. The band takes a minor breather next, with “The Suburbs (Continued)” but I know exactly which track is up next and I’m jumping in the air, chanting the opening chords and then it is there: “Ready To Start”. Hands are in the air, the lights are going crazy and it is one of the most incredible concert moments I have ever experienced.

Then Régine is standing up, moving away from the drum set and my friend knows what is coming next and I can only hope against hope that he is right. Of course he is. It is “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” my favourite of all of Arcade Fire’s songs and a song that even my family knows the words off by heart to because I cannot resist singing along to it every time I hear it. Hearing it live is absolutely incredible.

Arcade Fire at Wembley Arena 12 April 2018 (6)

My love for Arcade Fire is relatively new, starting only in 2013 with Reflektor and up next are two of the tracks that started it all, “Reflektor” and “Afterlife”. By this time the crowd is in a frenzy, basking in the glow of a fabulous performance, egged on by the frenetic antics of William Butler and the other mad scientists on stage.

Everything goes up in flames on the screens above the stage and as words begin to emerge, I know what is coming next. “Creature Comfort” has never felt so real and is followed by “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and suddenly the band is gone.

Arcade Fire at Wembley Arena 12 April 2018 (7)

The Encore

Sometimes a band will return from an encore and calmly play a couple of their best tracks before disappearing into the night. Arcade Fire’s encore is not like that. In fact, it is pretty mind-blowing. They burst back onto stage with “We Don’t Deserve Love” from their latest album and then things get interesting.

I look up on the stage and standing there is none other than Jarvis Cocker. I don’t know why I expect him to duet with Win on an Arcade Fire track but suddenly he’s singing “Cunts Are Still Running the World” and I’m having a moment. It’s the first time I’ve seen him live since Pulp’s surprise performance at Glastonbury in 1995 and it is glorious. And how relevant are those lyrics?

Arcade Fire welcome back the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, their support act for the evening, and they perform “Everything Now (Continued)” before launching into a barnstorming performance of “Wake Up”.

And all of a sudden, it really is over. The lights go off and both bands exit the stage to a rendition of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and the crowd is just standing there, not wanting it to end, as twenty or so performers inch painstakingly through the crowd towards the back exit. I’m stunned, be be quite frank, and know that whatever I do, I have to see Arcade Fire in concert again.

Arcade Fire at Wembley Arena 12 April 2018 (8)

I’d Like to Make a Complaint

… but before I do, I need to mention how fantastic the production was at this concert. The lights were spectacular and the location of the stage in the middle of the arena meant that everyone had a decent view, no matter where they were. The giant screens gave a brilliant view of the action on stage, as well as several close ups of my beloved Régine.

But now to my complaint. Arcade Fire did not play four of my favourite tracks and that just makes me sad. “Body Is A Cage”, “We Exist”, “Intervention” and “You Already Know” were glaring omissions and so I will endeavour to catch each of those tracks live at least once in my life before I die. Arcade Fire, ladies and gentlemen.

Arcade Fire Setlist The SSE Arena, Wembley, London, England 2018, Infinite Content

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Unrestricted View Film Festival preview: 5 Top Picks

Unrestricted View Film Festival

Now in its third year, the Unrestricted View Film Festival kicks off on 23 April 2018. The festival will run in three venues in Islington, London - The Hen & Chickens, The Screen on the Green, and the Vintage Mobile Cinema – and showcases the best of independent film from across the globe.

These are my five top picks for the festival which will run from 23 to 29 April 2018. Visit the Unrestricted View Film Festival website for tickets and information.

Pickups (2017) (UK)

Pickups Still 2 - Aidan Gillan_preview

The Screen on the Green, Monday 23 April, 7pm

The festival opens with Pickups, the new film directed by Jamie Thraves. The film stars Aiden Gillan as an insomniac suffering from back pain and the breakdown of his marriage. He is drowning his sorrows in a series of pickups but fears he might have a stalker, something which is not altogether convenient given that he has murdered a couple of people and intends to dispose of more.

Usire (2017) (Czech Republic)

Usire (2017)

The Hen & Chickens, Tuesday 24 April, 5.45pm

Usire is the debut film from director Jiří Maršálek. The life of an underworld enforcer is turned on its head by a chance meeting with a women in need of his help. We begin to see who the man really is and learn of the ghosts that haunt him. Usire is notable for its unconventional cinematography and audio-visual synergy, achieved through the simultaneous creation of both screenplay and soundtrack.

Bikini Blue (2017) (Poland)

Bikini Blue (2017)

The Hen & Chickens, Wednesday 25 April, 9.15pm

Directed by Jarek Marszewski and set in Great Britain in 1953 against the backdrop pf the Cold War and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Bikini Blue is the story of Eryk and Dora Szumski. A former officer in the Polish military, Eryk is exiled from his home country and harbours a heartbreaking secret. Incarcerated in a mental hospital after a failed suicide attempt, Eryk escapes and takes Dora on a road trip across the country.

Hippopotamus (2017) (UK)

Hippopotamus (2017)

The Hen & Chickens, Thursday 26 April, 7.00pm

Directed by Edward Palmer, this thriller begins as Ruby wakes from a bad dream to find herself in a real life nightmare. Trapped in a basement with broken legs and no memory of how she got there, Ruby is told by her kidnapper Tom that she will remain there until she falls in love with him. Despite her attempts to focus on her escape, Ruby soon begins to question everything as Tom tries to help her remember her past.

The Incantation (2018) (USA)

Incantation - Unrestricted Film Festival

The Hen & Chickens, Friday 27 April, 8.45pm

Director: Jude Walko. A young American girl embarks on the trip of a lifetime to visit her ancestors’ castle in the south of France. Her visit doesn’t quite turn out as expected when she discovers that her family are harbouring a deep, dark secret about a nefarious past.

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Saturday, 7 April 2018

New Music Review: Three For Silver - 'The Way We Burn' ★★★★☆

I'm in a funk, the kind where I haven't discovered any new indie music in what feels like an age and I've had to resort to tired old playlists on my iPod. In fact, I'm the very definition of uninspired when I encounter Three For Silver; they seem decidedly odd and I'm thinking to myself that I can definitely take something a little different in my life.

Three for Silver The Way We Burn photoshoot

Three For Silver are a three-piece band hailing from Portland, Oregon. Lucas Warford (vocals, basses) and Willo Sertain (vocals, accordion) were touring Europe with The Underscore Orkestra when they began to write songs together in the back of tour buses and in the small hours of the night. Rumour has it that sometime later, Greg Allison (mandolin, strings) showed up and convinced them that he'd always been in the band, something which Lucas and Willo never thought to question. It's just as well he did for Allison is the alchemist who takes Lucas and Willo's ideas and arranges them into songs.

Incidentally, none of the stories about the naming of the band seem very reliable, constantly changing depending on who you are speaking to and it’s all a secret as closely guarded as Fight Club.

The Way We Burn

Three for Silver The Way We Burn Album CoverThe Way We Burn is the third album from Three For Silver, recorded with Adam Lansky in his Portland studios. It's an album of devilish jigs and Vaudevillian capers tempered with lilting tangos and traditional folk ballads. It is a collection of narrative tales, with echoes of crime-ridden dark alleyways, whispers of the frontier and a consuming preoccupation with death and the afterlife. The Way We Burn stands up and demands attention; it is eclectic and energetic yet surprisingly cohesive as an album.

My favourite track by far is "Down in the Cut" with a moreish bass hook that lends itself to being played over and over again on repeat. It’s a dark and dirty song and easily one of my favourite discoveries of the year so far. Likewise, "Time Was" is a funky, anthemic track with a distinctively theatrical flair. "Let 'Em Down Easy" is another cracking track which will have you singing drunkenly into your tankard of rum, which I’m assuming you couldn’t help but pour for yourself during the album’s opening track “This Time Tomorrow”.

The Way We Burn surprises at every turn as Warford's gravelly vocals mingle with the sounds of Sertain's lilting melodies. It is a fun and irreverent album with barnstorming highs and Celtic interludes. 

For sheer entertainment value, I give The Way We Burn an excellent four out of five stars and would recommend to fans of Gogol Bordello, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Qiet and This Way To The Egress..

★★★★☆


Watch

Filmed & Edited by Veronica Rose, this short film gives you a peek into the unconventional process behind Three For Silver's new album "The Way We Burn".
Recorded from a dank basement to a cloud-capped stone observatory, from a silent river home to an empty piano warehouse, The Way We Burn marks a new generation in album production, and a band of people that is more than just one sound or one style. .

Listen

Buy

Bandcamp | CD Baby | iTunes

Links

Twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud | Bandcamp

Image Credits © James Rexroad

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Reviewed: Angie Thomas's Superb Debut 'The Hate U Give' ★★★★★

Angie Thomas’s explosive debut novel The Hate U Give delivers a powerful and poignant look at police brutality, poverty and life in crime-ridden inner cities. Impossible to put down and stunning in its realism, this is a novel that everybody needs to read.

The Hate U Give

 

I had a rare experience while reading Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give. I was two-thirds of the way through the book and had to put it down and remind myself that this was a work of fiction. So real were the characters and enthralling the story that I had found myself completely captivated, not wanting to put it down for even one minute.

It is rare that a book ticks all of the boxes for me but The Hate U Give has it all - the characters are complex, diverse and well-developed; the story full of references to social and popular culture and the plot itself was devastating and thought-provoking. This was all quite a surprise to me; I was unable to get into the book on first attempt and am so pleased that I gave it a second chance.

The Hate U Give is the story of teenager Starr who witnesses the death of her childhood best friend after he is shot by a policeman at a seemingly routine traffic stop. Consumed by her own grief and that of her family, Starr must come to terms with her increasingly angry community as news of the event spreads, all the while trying to maintain some semblance of normality in her private prep school.

I would recommend The Hate U Give to absolutely everyone, without reservation. It gives a searing account of life in a poor, black American neighbourhood and paints a damning picture of racial inequality and the value placed on certain lives. This book is timely and absolutely relevant in today's polarised times.

Angie Thomas began The Hate U Give as a short story project for her creative writing project following the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant. Following the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland, she decided to continue with the project and I'm so glad that she did. The book won the 2018 William C. Morris Award, an award which honours young adult literature written by a previously unpublished author. The film adaptation starring Amandla Stenberg as Starr and hip hop artist Common as Starr's uncle Carlos is currently in post-production and is being directed by George Tillman Jr.

Unsurprisingly, I give The Hate U Give a superb five out of five stars and and insist that you add it to your to-read list immediately if you've not already done so.

★★★★★

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© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

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