It’s now summer in Belfast. The grey skies and muggy weather may not give much away but the festivals have begun. It’s time for outdoor beers, good company, and great music. First on our radar for 2017 was Arcade Fire at Belsonic’s new Ormeau Park venue.

The park feels like a step up from last year’s Titanic Belfast setting. It’s green surrounds feel more like a festival and as The Kooks leave the stage, there’s a massive anticipation for the headline act.

Arcade Fire is notoriously difficult to pin down when it comes to genres. From the heady indie rock of 2002’s ‘Us Kids Know’ EP to the current disco strut of ‘Everything Now’, it’s been hook driven, catchy and infectious.

Plenty have caught the bug and Belfast’s sprawling Ormeau Park is full of eager fans as the intro to the current single kicks in. With tones of Fleetwood Mac, Abba, and dare we say, Toto, ‘Everything Now’ is a pop classic. It follows on from the more accessible pop of ‘Reflektor’. Several songs from that record occupy the mid-set. ‘Here Comes The Night Time’ brings out the midweek dance moves earlier on.

Each band member brings something to the party, sharing vocals, swapping instruments. The enigmatic Win Butler holds the show together. He even apologises for being “c*nts” and never having played Belfast shows before.

The guitar-led sections still appear to be fan favourites. And Arcade Fire knows it. ‘Neon Bible’, ‘Suburban War’ and both parts of ‘The Suburbs’ bookend the beginning of the show. The singalong party of ‘Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)’, ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ and ‘The Sprawl’ round off the evening. Beaming smiles and dad-dancing take over and there’s one more hit to come.

Of course, it’s ‘Wake Up’. Belfast joins Win Butler, Regine Chassaine, and the rest of the band in soaring vocals. There’s been no politics, no rain; nothing but music, good feeling and it’s all a refreshing change. Here’s hoping for a summer of more of the same and a speedier return from Arcade Fire next time.

Photos by Gerry McNally Photography