It's easy to see how you could hate a band like Arcade Fire. Putting aside their music for a moment, the Canadians are so damned annoyingly earnest in everything they approach – their stage garb, their uber-twee mannerisms, their heartfelt between-song banter – that it would drive the more cynical members of the music-loving population (*raises hand*) to eye-rolling, jaw-clenching distraction.
There is no disputing that 'Funeral' is one of the most accomplished, considered, evocative and musically exciting debut albums of all time; Arcade Fire's legend was born almost as soon as that record was released. But that was over 12 years ago and in the intervening years the Montrealers haven't quite managed to match its freewheeling spirit, despite putting out albums with some fine, fine songs. It meant that their last trip to Dublin, at Marlay Park in 2014, came with a garbled setlist and musicians who sounded like they were at a crossroads in their career in tow.
This time, it's different. The band that takes the stage at Malahide on a balmy summer's evening both looks and feels renewed after the disappointingly average 'Reflektor', and opening with the title track of their forthcoming album 'Everything Now' before rushing headlong into 'Rebellion (Lies)' sets the tone for the evening. This is a gig that nods generously to fan favourites; 'No Cars Go', 'The Suburbs', 'Ready to Start', 'Tunnels' and 'Power Out' are all thrillingly received, which makes new tracks like 'Creature Comfort' easier to palate. Regine Chassagne is delighted when a fan near the front proffers a Haitian flag during 'Haiti', and leaves the stage to claim it; it seems like one of those rare gigs where both band and audience are in flying form.
After 90 minutes of entertainment, they leave the stage before returning for a heart-bursting 'Wake Up' that sees the crowd unite in one voice, leaving Win Butler to gush: "Dublin, you always give us so much", clutching one hand to his chest as he waves goodbye with the other. Even the most cynical amongst us would struggle to disagree. Damn you, Arcade Fire.