Friday, March 09, 2007

First night: Arcade Fire

Back when I was a kid, you couldn't take cameras into gigs. Of course, you could, but you had to smuggle them in past bouncers with all the cunning of a mule crossing the Thai border. Now they're integrated into phones, it looks like the battle to keep them out has been lost, and nothing happens on stage without someone making a jerky video. So it is that much of last night's opening of the Arcade Fire UK tour in Manchester has already appeared on YouTube. Only trouble is, this eyewitness footage is somewhat less exciting than the testimony in print.

For example, the NME suggests that there was something of massive stage invasion:

Arcade Fire fans invade the stage
Band joined by all-dancing crowd for euphoric Manchester opener

- which sounds more exciting than the footage looks, to be frank.

Shine Like A Spoon wasn't impressed - what looks like an impassioned moment of inclusion to one person can be another's health and safety nightmare:
Arcade fire was... a fucking fiasco. It was all going well till the last song of the main set - I don't even remember what it was - when the singer decided it would be fun to open the gate and let some fans on stage. I was on the barrier, and should have been safe where I was, towards the centre, but one idiot decided he was going to push through instead of going to the side. I'd decided to stay exactly where I was - if I get a barrier, I'm not leaving it, even if it IS to go onstage. Anyway, I ended up with probably twenty or so people on top of me, by which point my ribs were crushed against the rail and if I didn't do something, I was about to have several broken ribs to contend with. So I did the first thing that came to mind: gripped the rail with both hands, pushed the flats of my feet against the barrier and pushed back with my shoulders as hard as I could. I did this a few times until I'd cleared about four foot behind me. Of course, the guy then got (even more) aggressive and started punching Neil in the head, and me in the back of the head/neck, while firmly pushing my spine, ribs and shoulderblades, crushing me to the barrier again. I know Neil got at least one punch in and I know the guy next to Neil pushed the guy backwards quite hard by his forehead. I also know a bouncer sent him flying in the same way, and I suspect quite a lot of other people got hits in, too. I don't know - I was, by that point, slumped over the barrier trying to remember how to breathe and operate my legs. He managed to hit me in the part of my back that stops everything else working.

It sounds a little like music editors came a little too close to having to write "Funeral"-themed headlines.