Live Review: Arcade Fire Levitates Xfinity Center in Mansfield

Arcade Fire’s cultivated carnival at Mansfield’s Xfinity Center on Tuesday night was a source of much reflection. Literally, for starters. There were glittery congas in the expanded 11-piece band, an overhead bank of hexagonal mirrors, and a dancing mirror man that popped up in the crowd, plus Regine Chassagne panning the pavilion with hand mirrors during “Reflektor.” As she and frontman/husband Win Butler sang in that title track from the band’s latest album, “We fell in love, alone on a stage, in the reflective age.”

That’s an age where Arcade Fire reflect the danceable commonality between the electro-wash and Afrobeat of respective Tuesday openers Dan Deacon and Antibalas as well as the disco sheen of Studio 54 and arty big-band tribalism of Talking Heads, given an extra splash of Haitian rhythm that nods to Chassagne’s heritage. It’s also an age where Arcade Fire show considerable growth since the group played cozy T.T. the Bear’s Place a decade ago, evolving from indie-rockers to arena rock stars.

Ironically, the songs that reached the greatest heights on Tuesday were ones that Arcade Fire played at T.T.’s , anthemic numbers from its 2004 breakout Funeral like “Rebellion (Lies),” “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” and grand finale “Wake Up,” where wordless choruses reached giddy crescendos. The same went for “No Cars Go,” which revved into a triumphant bellow undercut by Chassagne’s accordion.

Arcade Fire has since grown stranger and deeper in ways that didn’t always cut through on Tuesday, despite showy trappings. The title track of 2010’s Grammy-winning The Suburbs reflected on a bored life as more of a plod until Butler got worked up at the end, crying “I would waste it again!” And even a throbbing encore of “Here Comes the Night Time,” with a cast of extras wearing papier-mache heads that mimicked the Pope and Obama as well as band members, seemed ponderous until it exploded into overdrive with a blizzard of confetti.

As a towering frontman who’s apt to borrow a fan’s camera for crowd footage, Butler’s normally the focal point of the Montreal-based group. Yet he seemed somewhat subdued or detached during much of Tuesday’s action. Of course that’s easier to do with so many players – some as life-size puppets — swapping instruments and lending a hand, even if the sense of abandon was more reigned in than in the past. Butler nonetheless remained the frisky ringmaster, climbing atop his monitor speaker, and resonated with Bryan Ferry-esque cool in the funky glide “We Exist,” which he introduced with the declaration, “The right to marry is a human rights issue.”

On this night though, it was Butler’s spouse who shined brightest, as Arcade Fire’s comparatively hidden weapon. Chassagne mesmerized with her pantomime moves, both with a face mask and without. She sang “It’s Never Over” in the crowd while a skeleton-costumed character waved arms behind her, filmed to create a spook visual effect on the backdrop. And when Chassagne strutted to center stage to sing “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),” she flashed a voice and personality that reminded of Bjork, another arty singer who mixes well with electronic icing. Then she swirled about the stage, waving florescent streamers, while fans in the pit waved tiny Canadian flags.

In additon to all the reflectors, masks and violins, plus a smattering of ticket-holders in costume as requested, Arcade Fire connected with the crowd by covering a favorite local band as it has in cities across its tour. After a fakeout of papier-mache imposters miming to Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” the group broke into the punky rush of the Pixies’ “Alec Eiffel,” with Butler’s effusive brother Will throttling the bass.

Many in the crowd likely didn’t recognize that lesser Pixies track. Yet Win Butler foreshadowed his love, announcing earlier that Partners in Health — a charity that aids Haiti and receives a dollar from each Arcade Fire ticket sold — was “the coolest thing to come out of Boston, except for the Pixies.”

As a guy who spent time around Boston, starting with high school at nearby Phillips Exeter Academy, Butler knew his subject matter, even if his sense of priority in that comment hinged on playful brashness — like the show itself.

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