Arcade Fire comes out unscathed in Madrid amid sexual harassment controversy

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Madrid, 21st September (EFE) — Few could have predicted that one day a visit to Madrid by Arcade Fire, great preachers of the social cause, would be almost as much media coverage for the musical as it was for the sexual harassment scandal that spilled right over them. but from which they appear to have emerged unscathed, if not victorious.

In their already long tradition of crowded concerts, such as the one that took place four years ago during their last tour of Spain, which ended with street music, the Canadian band once again left the Wizink Center box office empty of funds, with a capacity designed for this event for 12,000 people. (it is true that today the highest stands are covered).

It is “WE” (2022), the album that brought them exclusively to the capital, that marks with its title a reunion with the community after months of isolation from the pandemic, a reunion that in their case did not suffer despite the relative dissatisfaction with his last albums, the musical overabundance of the 2022 concert year or, of course, serious disagreements against him.

The controversy, so recent that many of those present may not even have noticed it, erupted in late August as a result of a report with testimonies from four people who said they were sexually harassed by Win Butler between 2016 and 2020. , group leader.

The three women and the fourth gender-fluid person were then between 18 and 23 years old, about 20 years younger than the musician, when, according to his testimony, he used his fame to make contacts, which he called “agreed” in a statement. .

As a consequence, several radio stations in Canada stopped programming his music. However, the most notable effect was the cancellation of the tour by artist Feist, who was supposed to be the opening act, as seen on many of the posters plastered around Madrid.

However, the climate inside the Wiesink Center was very different and far from uncomfortable. Moreover, it turned out to be completely festive, helped by the set design, which reproduces the aesthetics of the old dance hall, with a large arched screen framing the group and a disco ball in the middle of the hall.

Added to this was that, either unaware of the controversy or feeling invulnerable to it, Arcade Fire took herself a little walk from the back of the old Sports Palace to the stage, bathing all her members in droves, including Butler, who repeated it later alone.

In purely musical terms, when six studio albums were released on the market before “WE” (2022), there were many possible permutations in the repertoire, in which there were only two constants: the beginning with “Age of Anxiety I”, after half a year, an hour of waiting, animated “Bolero” by Ravel, which seemed to have no end, and completion, about two hours later, “Awakening”.

Between the great milestones of his career, there was no shortage of strategically placed pillars, see “Reflektor”, “Rebellion (Lies)” or “Sprawl II”, leaving the new songs (which played almost completely) with the fill function. in-between with brilliance and coherence, especially “Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)”, very well received by the public.

We didn’t have to wait to hear “Ready to Start”, number two on the list. At such moments, the dilemma of separation between the work and the morally reprehensible author comes to mind, especially in the face of such a whip, with its double percussion, double keyboards and endless strings.

Getting closer to arena rock without compromising the powerful, voluminous and equally hypnotic live show with their lighting effects and projections, they once again showed they know how to breathe life into the spirit with uplifting anthems that stir with electricity. as “Lightning I”.

In the interim, “Rebellion (Lies)” explodes like a university collective “oohs” party in which Paul Beaubrun, one of its most recent members, was carried away in complete ecstasy until hitting a conga with his dreadlocks shortly before. in “Here Comes The Night Time”, the typical colored inflatable giants appeared out of nowhere in Coldplay style.

“Thank you so much,” Butler thanked for the applause in perfect Spanish before moving on to Part 2, which featured “Suburbia” and “Sprawl II” in the voice of Arcade Fire co-director Régine Chassan, glittering under a crystal ball and on a transparent piano with a purple tint in the back of the room.

Nor can the punch “Everything Now” be forgotten, which is one of the few that is usually required from their eponymous album and which, turned into an anthem, led them to several encores in which, in an acoustic key, they declared the spirit of the Beatle from ” Imagine” in “End of the Empire IV”.

The last point, again in full ecstasy, was delivered by a call to the awakening of conscience, that is, “Wake up”, a message that I hope will not turn in the near future against this night when Madrid allowed himself to be seduced by Wine. Butler.

Xavier Smith.

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at

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