Wake up: Looking back on Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’

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“Is it on? Whatever. Hi, we’re the Arcade Fire. 10 times as much vocals, if you can.”

There’s a video from late 2004, filmed at the tiny Jackpot Saloon in Kansas - you can find it if you look. An impossible number of bodies are crammed onto a tiny stage. Guitars crash, drums pound and strings soar as that primal cry rings out. It’s not just the glorious racket they make, but the pure joy on their faces. Even now, over a decade later, it’s beyond infectious.

Maybe, in the time since, we’ve learned to take Win, Régine and co a bit for granted, but it’s still possible to feel that initial excitement of their era defining debut album ‘Funeral’ today. You’ll find it twenty one seconds into ‘Wake Up’ - a rising gang wail, even now it puts goosebumps on top of goosebumps. That’s the magic of Arcade Fire.

Even now, over a decade later, it’s beyond infectious.

Arriving into a scene filled with stripped back garage rock and angular post-punk, this wasn’t the two piece, direct shove of a White Stripes or Death From Above 1979. It wasn’t the spiky dead disco of a Radio 4 or Yeah Yeah Yeahs either - but it could sit alongside either. Instead, there was this mildly ludicrous number of musicians, performing songs which seemed both smart and absolutely bloody huge at the same time.

An album titled due to the loss of family members by several of the band in the previous few months to release, it would be easy to be downbeat. But ‘Funeral’ couldn’t be further from that. ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’ is filled with so much raw electricity it could power the National Grid. ‘Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)’, with its youthful exuberance, is only bettered by the euphoric joy of ‘Rebellion (Lies)’. A top twenty single back when that actually meant something, it practically floated on the potential of what Arcade Fire could, and would, become. Anything was possible. Most of it was probable. Almost all of it actually happened - but everything started right here.

For DIY’s full Hall of Fame coverage on Arcade Fire's 'Funeral' head here.


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