Wake Up

Somethin’ filled up my heart with nothin’, someone told me not to cry.
But now that I’m older, my heart’s colder, and I can see that it’s a lie.
Children wake up, hold your mistake up, before they turn the summer into dust.

Wake Up, Arcade Fire

This is a bit late in coming, but a couple of weeks ago I went to the O2 for a long awaited Arcade Fire gig.

I’m not generally a stadium concert kind of girl, preferring the crammed, bawdy familiarity of places like the Manchester Apollo and Brixton Academy. But if there’s a band that deserve a cathedral-like space to play in, it’s Arcade Fire.

They stood up and played, energetically, enthusiastically and emotively, with nothing to recommend them except their own exuberance on stage. No light shows, no cheesy moments singing in the crowd, no mechanical elephants walking up to the stage. Just them, their instruments and their songs.

It was snowy when they played, and the students had been protesting, and somehow, songs like Wake Up and Rebellion (Lies) had never felt so appropriate. H described it to me afterwards as like being in church, a spiritual experience. And while church is actually nothing like what that night in Greenwich was, I knew exactly what he meant. The songs mean something, they feel profound, they were sung with passion, they communicated something fundamental, and made us feel something mysterious.

Not meaning to sound pretentious, but I couldn’t hear what they sing about the suburbs, about feeling constrained by a middling life, and then watch middle class young people so invigorated and angry that they’ll stand for hours in sub-zero temperatures, only not to be heard, and not feel that they’ve captured the sentiment of our times more accurately than any hymn or snow-sung carol ever will or could.

So I suppose it was in that spirit they dedicated Rebellion (Lies) to the student protesters. Shame it came to nothing.

People say that your dreams
Are the only things that save you
Come on baby, in our dreams
We can live our misbehaviour

Rebellion (Lies), Arcade Fire

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