Entertainment & Arts

Arcade Fire preview new album in London

Rock band Arcade Fire have premiered tracks from their heavily-anticipated new album, The Suburbs, at their first UK gig in three years.

A sweaty Hackney Empire was packed to the rafters for the Canadian eight-piece's ferocious 90-minute show.

"Stand up. Stand up!" implored frontman Win Butler as he took to the stage.

They kicked off with two new songs, Ready To Start and Modern Man, but interspersed the set with classics such as No Cars Go and Rebellion (Lies).

The only mis-step was an ill-advised aside, as Butler quipped, "I still think England have a pretty good shot at this World Cup," to a chorus of boos.

"We're just practising banter for Reading and Leeds!" he protested, referring to the band's headlining slot at next month's rock festival.

Later, he held his guitar up by its neck and pretended to whack the front row across their heads, in apparent revenge for their reaction.

The band's new material, including We Used To Wait and Month Of May, felt more straightforward than the epic stadium rock of their debut, Funeral, and its follow-up, Neon Bible.

The echoing, singalong chants and grand church organs that were a hallmark of their songwriting were largely abandoned in favour of immediate, driving guitar lines.

Fans were supportive, however, applauding the new tracks and joining in heartily with the more familiar material.

By the encores of Keep The Car Running and Wake Up, the audience were in danger of drowning out the band.

Among the fans were Gavin and Stacey's Mathew Horne and Florence and the Machine's Florence Welch, who danced wildly on the balcony throughout the 18-song set.

"It was amazing," she told the BBC after the show.

"Seeing them in such a small venue, so close up, was just beautiful."

"Their sound is so hard but it's really beautiful at the same time. It's really heartfelt and really intense - it definitely had a big influence on me."

Arcade Fire play this weekend's Oxegen Festival in Ireland, and the Reading and Leeds Festivals next month. The Suburbs is due for release on 2 August.

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