Arcade Fire raised more than $100,000 for PLUS1’s Ukraine Relief Fund through five surprise club shows — one in New Orleans and four in New York — in the course of a week, the group announced on Instagram.
Wristbands for the gigs at New Orleans’ Toulouse Theatre (March 14) and New York’s Bowery Ballroom (March 18-21) were distributed at random locations throughout both cities, and fans were invited to pay whatever they could afford for entry. They represented Arcade Fire’s first full live shows since February 2020, ahead of the May 6 release of their new Columbia album, “We.”
At them, the group debuted five songs from the album, including the two-part first single “The Lightning,” “Age of Anxiety I” and its companion “Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)” and “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid).”
The group’s first show in New York culminated with the entire band and much of the audience marching out onto Delancey Street in front of the Bowery Ballroom, singing the final song of the set — and the song that introduced them to most of the world — “Wake Up,” the opening track from their 2004 debut album, “Funeral.”
Arcade Fire brought arena spectacle to their surprise Bowery Ballroom show on Friday night that spilled out onto the street and into the subway. Check out pics, setlist, video: https://t.co/eK8kJy5cYE pic.twitter.com/eKoPbfAyTe
— BrooklynVegan (@brooklynvegan) March 19, 2022
At the final Bowery Ballroom show on March 21, Arcade Fire was joined on stage by actor Mike Myers, who gave a brief speech about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and longtime compatriot David Byrne, who lent a hand on a closing cover of Plastic Ono Band’s “Give Peace a Chance.”
Arcade Fire’s return to activity this month also included the surprise announcement of longtime member Will Butler’s departure from the band. Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner filled Butler’s role during the New Orleans and New York shows.