Arcade Fire at Bell Center | An evening between ecstasy and bitterness


Despite allegations of sexual misconduct recently leveled against the band’s frontman, Win Butler, 10,500 people attended Arcade Fire’s concert Saturday at Bell Center. The print he talked to the spectators, some fought, some enthusiastic, and witnessed the (excellent) performance of the Montreal team.

No one was supposed to be at the Arcade Fire concert at Bell Center on Saturday night. We decided to be there to talk about this moment in such a particular context, to question the fans who had decided not to boycott the band, but also to talk about this last concert of the Arcade Fire tour.

For many spectators, given the difficulties in obtaining a refund and the near impossibility of reselling tickets, the decision was difficult: either waste money or go despite reservations.

“I got the idea [samedi] morning, Elisa, his longtime admirer, testified before the concert. I thought about giving up, not coming. I felt a slight unease with everything that’s going on. I am for the victims. But we can’t get a refund. It’s money we lose. »

Next to her, James, also a fan of Arcade Fire, added: “Tonight will not be like other times. I want to see them, I still love their music, but it’s hard to put everything else down. But I’ve been following them for so long that I find it hard to even let them go. »

“I told myself we would try to exploit the music as such,” continued their friend, Chrislaine, who discovered the group last summer. The music they created doesn’t go away with this scandal. Music remains a heritage that we want to preserve. Although… It can send a bad message to be there and encourage this singer. »


Chrislaine, Elisa and James before the Arcade Fire show

Vivid emotions

So some people, among the ten viewers interviewed by The print, arrived at the Arcade Fire concert backwards. For others, it was never about not being there.

“There was no evidence, only allegations. I was not going to get my money back. I paid for it and I’m going ”, launched Jean-François Larochelle, who had bought the tickets to surprise his wife (whose birthday was on Saturday) and his friend. Neither of us even knew (until we informed them) that Win Butler had been reported for misconduct.

“Without endorsing his behavior, I find that there is a difference between the person and the band we have loved for years, for his part affirmed François René, surrounded by his band of friends. This is the show of my life and I wouldn’t have missed it for it. I like their music and I like their message, even if now there’s a stain on the image we had of the person. »


Étienne and François René before the Arcade Fire show

To his right, Étienne said the group has been thinking for a long time. “Emotions ran high when the allegations came out,” he said. Had there been any allegations, the show would have been cancelled. We’ll see if there will be. But we, today, are happy to be here. »

The scandal

So was the return of the prodigal sons to the city where they were born, for the last leg of their world tour, WE.

Arcade Fire was musically flawless. He presented a concert worthy of his fame, expertly drawing from his splendid repertoire, interpreting his pieces with emotion and precision, for two hours.

The members were on the Metropolis stage last summer alone in Osheaga, greeted as usual by a worshiping audience, soon after the release of this generally well-received new album. This time was different. Meanwhile, in August, the article in the American magazine pitchfork revealed allegations of inappropriate behavior by Win Butler. What the world knew as a big-hearted man allegedly committed sexual misconduct against four people.


Grand archways overlooked the Bell Center’s main stage, then the arches became an iris, making the stage a pupil.

Rather than retire, Butler embarked on this tour with his band, which kicked off three days after the inquiry was published. He denied having made gestures without the consent of the people involved. Régine Chassage, co-leader of the group and wife of Win Butler, said she supported her husband. No members then said anything more about the case and nothing was added during Saturday’s concert.

Queen Queens

In fact, very few words other than song lyrics were spoken during this homecoming. Maybe it was for the best.

Grand arches overlooked the Bell Center’s main stage. A huge disco ball spun above the second one in the center of the floor. They kicked off the show on this stage with the show Tunnel, which allowed them to come through the crowd, followed by a single ray of light, Win took the time to clap his hands, to greet his audience. The spectators stood up. To see better, to dance better, but also, it seemed, to give the group a standing ovation.

Then, another round on the floor, to go this time to the big stage. The arches have become an iris, making the scene a pupil. The group sang the wonderful Age of anxiety. Régine Chassagne, sometimes at the mic in front of the stage, sometimes behind her drum kit, and other times at the piano, was the one we couldn’t take our eyes off. Even when, during the mighty My body is cage, Butler mounted the organ on which his wife was sitting, whom he threw to her knees for greater intensity, which she stamped with her foot as she sang very high, it was Régine who shone. When she put on her sparkling raincoat she danced merrily Reflector, hypnotized us. And we only had eyes for her when it was her turn to step on the piano, dance in the crowd, when it was time to interpret Sink.


Queens Chassagne

For his part, throughout the evening, Win Butler proved himself worthy of his leadership role, bringing insane energy to his performance.

Electrifying… and heavy

But now there was a malaise at the Bell Center. An elephant in the room that not even the musical prowess of the band could make us forget. The triumphant moment we would have imagined after Osheaga’s performance didn’t actually happen. She hovered like a cloud, though some might momentarily ignore her and drift into the music.

It’s not for lack of trying, of giving everything. Despite empty seats and a two-thirds full floor, and even though Win Butler’s aura is dimmed, Arcade Fire remained stately. The direction and production, without great artifice, but great enough, did a lot to make the moment dazzling.

The public response was strong. The remaining fans of the band shouted, cheered and danced. They yelled “lies, lies!” » repeatedly during Rebellion (how ironic!). They sang their hearts out The suburbs. They shook the floor while jumping during Everything Now.

It was thrilling. But, for many, it was also heavy.

Shortly before the show, Sarah and Kelly, who had come specially from Ottawa, told us about their discomfort. “We bought tickets in August and a week later we found out there were charges,” Sarah said. We were overwhelmed. »

Seeing Arcade Fire live was on their wish list, but the duo hesitated for a long time. “We thought we weren’t going to come,” Kelly said. It will stay in my head. »


Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, from Arcade Fire, at the Bell Center

“It’s also very difficult because it’s just one person and you’re thinking about the other members, who are victims of the person they’re associated with,” added Sarah, stating that she feels “in limbo… in relation to this story.

The last notes

Around 11:15pm, after a reminder during which it rang I will be back to Montreal, Arcade Fire reappeared on the small stage. A trembling and moved Régine told her loved ones about her, that she saw in the crowd, how much she loved them. Then, the group served us three last songs: End of the Empire, Bird on the wire – by Leonard Cohen, e wake up.

Under the thousand lights of the disco ball, the concert ended in a strong emotion that we don’t know exactly what to attribute. The last notes ringing out at Bell Center seemed to mark much more than the end of a tour.

Will Arcade Fire be able to fill an arena in the next few years? Will the Montreal team still exist after tonight? Nothing is less secure.


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