Grand Prospect Hall, Brooklyn, New York
July 27, 2017
The knives are out for Arcade Fire. Reviews of their ambitious but uneven new album, “Everything Now,” are mixed at best. The slightly petulant air of their jokey response to a negative review of that album (the band wrote a mock-review mocking that review) has gotten a mixed response as well. And even this night’s show — an Apple Music livestream staged at a gloriously glitzy 125-year-old theater in Brooklyn that usually is the site of weddings and graduations — was soundly mocked for a dress-code-dictating email to ticketholders that was sent not by the band or Apple but (sources say) by the ticketing company handling the show.
But perhaps most of all, this is a Grammy-winning band that has suffered surprisingly little critical negativity in the dozen-odd years since their debut “Funeral” was feted with fevered hosannahs from the Pitchfork set. Surely a group of this stature and longevity is long overdue for some comeuppance. The Internet smells blood!
But then you’re in the balcony of this gloriously kitschy theater on a sweltering July night — a place where “We make your dreams come true!” according to a commercial familiar to anyone who watches New York City TV; a place where Matt, the 80-something neighbor on your Brooklyn block, saw Sammy Davis Jr. perform in the 1940s — and the most arena-worthy rock band of the past 15 years is mesmerizing a couple thousand enraptured fans with zero props or special effects, and it’s hard to see what the meh-sayers are complaining about.
That’s not to say the less-endearing songs on the new album sound better in a live setting — they don’t. But over the course of the two-hour/20-song set, the strongest of the “Everything Now” tracks hold their own amid the highlights from the band’s formidable catalog like “Rebellion (Lies),” “The…