Ukuleles, banjos, horns, trumpets,a hurdy gurdy, violins, mandolins, double basses, sun, rain, wind and even a home coming; Arcade Fire’s one day mini-festival had it all. With a crowd of no less then 60,000 people and support coming from from fellow Canadian and friend of Arcade Fire; Owen Pallett, Britain’s next big indie band; The Vaccines, New Mexico’s ukulele and horn filled; Beirut and the capitals very own indie folk phenomenon; Mumford and Sons.
Two hours after the flood gates opened and the people started to pour in the heavens opened up and rain showered the entire crowd just as Owen Pallett was about to come on stage. Fortunately the rain stopped fairly quickly and people could retract their umbrellas for Pallett’s set. The crowd seemed to really enjoy his electronic/violin amalgamation and seemed to get the crowd quite involved despite not being very well known.
Next up were the Vaccines; with a top five debut album under their belts they really got the crowd singing and bouncing about, especially with their singles ‘If You Wanna’ and ‘Post Break Up Sex’ but the lack of experience with such a huge audience did show and it felt that they didn’t really project them selves in the same way they might in a small indoor venue.
After the Vaccines many around me as well as my self got quite excited as Beirut setup for their set. As they took to the stage they plunged right in with fan favourite ‘Nantes’ from their last LP ‘The Flying Club Cup‘ and then following it up with another 15 songs which included the likes of ‘Elephant Gun’, ‘Postcards From Italy’ and new single ‘East Harlem’ and then finishing their set with an incredible performance of ‘The Gulag Orkestar’. Beirut most certainly reminded their fans of why they love them as well as winning the hearts of many others.
As Beirut went off the black curtains which covered the rest of the stage came down to reveal a Mumford & Sons backdrop and soon after the packed field started to get excited and began to chant “Mumford” and were then welcomed home with a thunderous applauds as they came on stage. With a very generous main support slot of just over an hour in length the London four piece proved why they are just so damn popular playing massive hits such as ‘The Cave’ and “Little Lion Man’ amongst others from the 2009 debut as well a few new tracks which they said they planned to take into the studio in a couple of weeks time.
Finally it was time for Arcade Fire, Mumford’s equipment was rolled off and their back drop was pulled down and the stage was transformed into an outdoor cinema screen complete with a show time board which read “Arcade Fire COMING SOON” (which was all that could be seen of the set through out the day) as well as some white bunting for decoration. Then at 8.45 on the dot previews of Arcade Fires short film came on to the screen and as it finished the Canadians piled onto the stage and opened with ‘Ready to Start’ which is quite fitting for an opener one might say. Then Win Butler stated “This is a song we usually play later in set but I wanna fucking hear it now!” before playing ‘Wake Up‘.
Régine Chassagne took command on vocals for a beautiful rendition of ‘Haiti’ which had everybody trying to sing a long and dancing about and this was followed up by ‘Intervetion’ which once again had the crowd bounding about like over excited dogs after their master has just come in from work; a man so excited he screamed in my face “This is the fucking best band in the world! Anyone here who doesn’t get excited by Arcade Fire can fuck off out of Hyde Park!” of course this might be the alcohol speaking but there is most certainly a lot of truth in that; how can anybody not get excited by such an energetic show which the 60,000 people who gathered in Hyde Park witnessed as Win’s brother William flailing around on stage with a drum taped to him self beating it like he caught it in bed with his wife while they played ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ .The band then continued with the up beat, fast paced songs by following it up with ‘Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)’, ‘We Used to Wait’ before finishing the main set with ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’.
A few minutes after going after the band then returned, Chassagne with a hurdy gurdy in hand to begin a three song encore starting with ‘Keep the Car Running’ followed by ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’ and finally Régine reclaimed lead vocals to end the night with ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains’ which saw her dance and twirl around the stage really quite elegantly during the instrumental parts.
Overall Arcade Fire’s little mini-festival was incredible, all the bands were at the top of their game but it was let down slightly by sound problems particularly in Arcade Fire’s set although it wasn’t a sound quality issue but it was just a bit quiet and you could often hear the crowd over the band. Saying that, it did get a lot better during the second half of their set.
Overall Rating : 4/5