Can a band whose latest album debuted at number one on the US, UK, and Canadian charts (number two in Denmark), won a Grammy for album of the year, and led to a collaboration with superstar director Spike Jonze still be called ‘indie’?
While Arcade Fire’s success with last year’s The Suburbs may have led to the group outgrowing its indie label, the Canadian have has pulled off the rare feat of maintaining their credibility and position as critical darlings while simultaneously selling boatloads of albums and selling out arenas worldwide.
The eight-piece Montreal-based collective, led by husband and wife team Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, are touring in support of the re-release of The Suburbs, which sees the addition of two songs and the Jonze-produced short film, Scenes from the Suburbs. The 30-minute film has played at the Berlin International Film Festival and the SXSW Film Festival.
They will bringing their show to the appropriately suburban venue of the Ballerup Super Arena. The concert will be the band’s first visit to Denmark since a sold-out show at KB Hallen four years ago. While many grumbled about the Ballerup location – wishing instead the band would have played the Roskilde Festival - the northwest suburb provides a fitting setting for showcasing The Suburbs. The album’s 16 tracks are a thematic and nostalgic journey through growing up in the ‘burbs. Disillusion, heartache, the search for identity, the sorrows of strip malls – all are captured perfectly on the album by Butler, drawing on his own childhood in a suburb of Houston, Texas.
Not only did The Suburbs net Arcade Fire the unexpected Grammy win, the album ended at or near the top of many critics’ ‘Best of 2010’ lists – including, for what its worth, mine. But Arcade Fire was no stranger to critical acclaim prior to last year’s release. Their first album, 2004’s Funeral, rocketed the band to stardom and was named album of the year by Pitchfork, MTV2 and others. It also made them favourites of such rock royalty as U2 and Bruce Springsteen.
The 2007 follow-up Neon Bible, recorded in an abandoned church in a small Quebec town, was also a critical and commercial success, debuting at number one in Canada and Ireland, and number two in the US and UK (number eleven in Denmark).
Beyond racking up awards and glowing reviews, the band is also known for their political activism. Butler was a vocal supporter of Barack Obama during the 2008 US presidential campaign, and the band have been long-time activists for Haiti – Chassange lived in the Caribbean country until her family fled in the 1960s. Arcade Fire have donated portions of their ticket sales to the NGO Partners in Health, which operates hospitals and clinics in Haiti, and Chassange has launched Kanpe, a Montreal-based microcredit organisation aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in Haiti.
For music fans looking to see world stars at the top of their game, head on out to the ‘burbs on Saturday night and see Arcade Fire blow the roof off the Ballerup Super Arena.
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