Arcade Fire has become one of the biggest names in the indie rock realm ever since its formation in 2001. In the now 16 years that have passed since the band’s creation, its fame has grown exponentially with millions of records being sold and countless shows being sold out. One of those shows, the band’s June 6, 2014 concert at Earl’s Court in London, became the focus of the band’s first live recording early this year. The concert, dubbed Reflektor Tapes, was part of the band’s yearlong “Reflektor Tour,” which ran from 2013 to 2014. It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online. The recording is a work that will appeal both to devoted fans and to those less familiar with the Canada-based outfit. That is due in part to the recording’s set list. This will be discussed shortly. The band’s performance of said set list is just as important to examine as the set list itself in considering the recording’s presentation. It will be discussed later. The concert’s bonus material is also an important piece of its whole to consider and certainly not the last important element to note here. The concert’s cinematography and its availability on various platforms could just as easily be examined. All things considered, Reflektor Tapes proves to be, again, a live recording that will appeal to fans new and old alike, and gives it potentially a place on any critic’s list of the year’s top new live recordings.
Arcade Fire’s new live recording Reflektor Tapes is a work that will appeal to the band’s most devoted fans and those less familiar with the band’s work. That is due in part to the concert’s set list. The 20-song set list pulls from all four of the band’s current albums. The band’s most recent recording, Reflektor (2013) receives the most nods in the concert’s set list, with a total of eight of the record’s songs being included in the show. The band’s 2004 debut record Funeral received the second most nods with six of its songs being included in the set list. 2007’s Neon Bible was the least represented of the band’s albums in this show, with only three of its songs featured here. Though the concert’s set list is made up largely of songs from Reflektor, the fact that the band pulled from all four of its current records is in itself impressive. It presents audiences with a healthy sampling of the band’s work so far. To that end, the concert’s set list shows to be an important part of this recording’s whole. It is just one of the recording’s important elements. The band’s performance of the show’s set list is important to examine, too.
The set list at the center of Reflektor is a clearly important piece of the recording’s presentation to note. That is because it makes a valid attempt to represent all four of the band’s albums so far. That means that it gives audiences a relatively healthy sampling of the band’s work so far regardless of fans’ familiarity with the band and its work. While clearly an important part of the presentation’s whole, it is not the recording’s only important element to examine. The band’s performance of the set list is just as important to examine as the set list itself. The band’s performance throughout the concert will keep fans at home just as entertained and engaged as the audience that was in attendance at the show’s taping. Front man Win Butler leads the way with his completely kinetic presence. Butler moves throughout the massive stage at Earl’s Court and is clearly never afraid to interact with closely with the audience, either. Band co-founder and keyboardist Regine Chassagne is just as active as Butler even as she maintains her place on-stage. Her energy and enthusiasm adds even more enjoyment to the band’s overall performance. Much the same can be said of the rest of the band’s members. Between the touring musicians and the band’s permanent members, the band’s collective body generates an energy and exuberance that translates just as well on-screen as in person. Because it translates so well, it adds even more depth to the recording, thus making the recording even more appealing for audiences. Even as important as the band’s performance proves to be to the recording’s overall presentation, it is still not the last of the recording’s most important elements. The bonus material included with the recording is important to examine, too.
The set list that makes up Reflektor Tapes’ body, and the band’s performance thereof are both key pieces of the recording’s overall presentation. That is because of the depth that both elements generate in themselves and collectively. While both elements are obviously important in their own right, they re not its only important elements. The bonus material included in the recording should be examined, too. The bonus material featured in the recording includes a handful of music videos and a full-length documentary. The documentary is the centerpiece of the recording’s bonus material. One part tour documentary, one part behind the scenes making-of presentation and one part commentary, it follows the band on the road while also maintaining the band’s record of bringing attention to the Haitian culture and the plight of the nation’s people. It also takes audiences behind the scenes, albeit briefly, of the album’s creative process. There are those who have deeply criticized the documentary since the recording’s release. The reality is that a close watch shows it is not as fractious as it seems. The documentary is meant, in whole, to be a glimpse into the band, its life on the road and its influences, not some huge presentation. Keeping that in mind, the documentary develops a new identity that makes it worth the watch. In watching it more closely, audiences will find that it is just as important to the whole of Reflektor Tapes as its main feature concert. When one takes into consideration the new appreciation for the documentary and sets that appreciation alongside the appreciation for the concert and the band’s performance throughout, the whole of these elements makes Reflektor Tapes a recording that will appeal to so many audiences—one that could be considered one of the year’s top new live recordings.
Reflektor Tapes, Arcade Fire’s new live recording, is a valiant new live effort from the Canadian indie rock out. From a set list that spans the band’s body of work to a performance whose energy expertly translates on screen to a body of bonus material that adds even more depth to the recording and more, the whole of this recording will appeal to the band’s most devout fans and its newest fans alike. All things considered, those elements noted and not noted combine to make Reflektor Tapes a work that could be considered one of this year’s top new live recordings. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Reflektor Tapes is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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