On Friday and Saturday night last week in Glasgow a glittery party took place in the legendary Barrowland which was arguably the hottest ticket in recent memory. The Reflektors were performing two shows – which sold out in seconds – and boy what shows they were!
The Reflektors are of course Arcade Fire playing as their alter-egos having taken their name from the latest album Reflektor. The shows were ticketed as “formal attire or fancy dress” and when we were there on Saturday night around 95% of the crowd had adhered to the brief.
On arrival to the venue there was a Mariachi band playing and singing at the top of the stairs, with one rather peculiar singer in a Star Wars baseball cap and party mask. It is impossible to tell of course, but later when Win Butler arrived on stage the clothes certainly looked familiar to anyone who had watched the Mariachi performance…
Once upstairs the Barrowland had been transformed into “Discotheque Reflektor” with strands of LED lights spanning the ceiling as DJ Don Letts played a bass-heavy mix of tunes whilst we waited on The Reflektors taking the stage. In among the dancing throng of impeccably dressed party-goers were the papier-mâché headed band from the video for Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’, dancing and getting their photos taken with the crowd. Again we can’t say for sure that this was the band, but it is interesting to note that once again the clothes seemed to match the once they took the stage….
The Reflektors haphazardly arrived on the stage with Win shortly after complaining to the rest of the band that they were due to start at 9pm (it was 8:30). Soon the confusion was cleared up with the band launching into ‘Normal Person’. Unlike previous nights there was no talk of “Arcade Fire covers” or “We’ve always wanted to play here” pretence. In fact, the second song was ‘Wake Up!’ which saw a reaction from the crowd with arms in the air, singing along in unison which most acts would feel lucky to achieve come the encore. Win Butler had a mini-catwalk allowing him to reach out from the stage and be closer to the crowd, he stood with guitar in the air and helped lead the singalong, looking every bit like he too was lost in the overwhelming experience which had grasped the room.
For the next hour the party proved to include much glitter, formal dress, fairy lights and a massive carnival of fun. At one point Win told us that this venue was ”…our favourite room in the world” which received a rapturous applause and took the atmosphere even higher. Everyone was buzzing.
Most of the set came from Reflektor, we were also treated to a Ramones cover (‘Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World’) and a few Arcade Fire songs, the last of which (and closer) was an incendiary version of ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’. When the band left the stage after just over an hour and a half, the back wall of the venue was wet with condensation from the dancing, excitement and party atmosphere which The Reflektors brought to Barrowland.
Having seen Arcade Fire in here many years ago on the Neon Bible tour it felt almost impossible to compare the two shows. Tonight was (obviously also) an Arcade Fire show, but The Reflektors had a totally different vibe onstage. With the band wearing their massive heads, animal masks, and Richard Reed Perry dressed as Braveheart complete with kilt and blue painted face, we had an electronica disco vibe and they had created a party.
Sure it was a concert, but somehow the live aspect transcended to something else, a proper night out in the presence of The Reflektors who started by dancing with the crowd, playing some songs and then popping up again afterwards to DJ the aftershow in the same room, and this time we were all invited!