IT’S not often that one of the biggest bands on the planet rolls into town; so when Canadian art-rock behemoths Arcade Fire announced they were coming to Edinburgh, it was surprising to see them opt for the 3000 capacity Corn Exchange as their venue of choice. A band used to headlining arenas, stadiums and festivals all over the world, this was a rare opportunity to see a massive presence in an intimate setting; a chance to get up close and personal with a true musical phenomenon.

The momentousness of the occasion is not lost on those lucky enough to be in attendance. On a night when the rest of the population are watching the fate of the country unfold on their TV screens with baited breath, Arcade Fire provide two hours of euphoric escapism; no one would be aware of the crippling anxiety and uncertainty that grips the nation outside the venue’s doors. The tangible buzz which sweeps around the room transforms into sheer elation when the band make their highly anticipated appearance. Walking through the crowd as they enter, they perform an acoustic version of ‘Wake Up’ to a rapturous response. Stopping short of the stage to finish the song from within the audience, their playing is dwarfed by the crowd as they bellow out its signature refrains. It’s a truly spine-tingling introduction which has to go down as one of the best openings to a gig in recent memory.

From here, the band jump into their set as if they’ve never been away. While they don’t arrive with the same elaborate production of the Reflektor era, their stage set-up is a simple yet brilliantly unique masterstroke. Anchoring themselves in the centre of the venue, they perform their entire set on a 360 degree construct in the middle of the room – lending a newfound intimacy to their hugely anthemic brand of art-rock as fans gather round in search of the best angle. Swapping positions throughout the gig, it’s a wonder that the whole band and their many instruments are able to fit on the stage but it’s a refreshing approach that pays off with remarkable results.

After a cathartic introduction, they give their brand new single ‘Everything Now’ an early run-out. Already a huge favourite among fans, it immediately sets the tone for the night ahead as the crowd dance along to its upbeat choruses and jangly refrains with the same gusto as their most popular anthems. It’s one of three new songs on display tonight alongside ‘Signs Of Life’, premiered at Scunthorpe earlier in the week and another excerpt from the record which is given its first outing. Both tracks don’t stray too far from the ABBA sheen and disco-pop grandeur of ‘Everything Now’, suggesting that their forthcoming album will mark yet another sonic progression for the outfit. By creating music that spans many different genres and eras, Arcade Fire are completely unique in their ability to take on a new guise with each and every album; and this looks set to continue with the release of their fifth full length effort later this year.

In just over an hour and half, they perform a career-spanning set which features cuts from each of the four albums that have come before. Regine Chassagne commands the stage on ‘Haiti’ before an utterly euphoric take on the band’s breakthrough song ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ which has the crowd belting out its refrains in sheer ecstasy. The baroque sounds of ‘No Cars Go’ are urgent and stirringly passionate in its delivery while ‘Neon Bible’ gets a rare and impassioned outing. ‘This was written the last time there was an illegitimate US president. Seems familiar now….” Win Butler says. It’s an ominous, pared-back moment which reverberates around the room with great feeling – its lyrics all the more pertinent given the political chaos that is unfolding outside the doors of the Corn Exchange.

‘Ready To Start’ injects some pace into proceedings with its chugging rhythms before ‘Reflektor’ is performed in all its decadent glory; Butler and Chassagne bounce off each other over flourishes of brass, groove-centric percussion and majestic choruses. The levels of musicianship on show are quite frankly extraordinary to witness. Often switching instruments throughout, each member displays an inimitable command of their craft that adds a brimming sense of innovation to their soaring alt-rock.

“We are so happy to be here”, Win Butler says with heartfelt sincerity. Going down to the crowd to latch onto his adoring fanbase, there is a mutual sense of appreciation that swells around the room. This is a band who love what they do and it’s plain for everyone to see. With temperatures reaching sweltering heights, the night closes with a stunning rendition of ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains’, taken from their third album The Suburbs. The ever exuberant Regine Chassagne is the image of pure giddy abandon as she floats around the stage, utterly entrancing in her delivery before the entire band walk through the crowd once again and leave the room in awe. Concluding the evening’s performance with an impromptu performance in The Corn Exchange’s hallway which evokes an almost carnival-like atmosphere among the audience, it’s an evening that is celebratory in every sense of the word.

It’s hard to think of a band who have evolved with such power and innovation than Arcade Fire. Now approaching the release of their fifth album, it’s fair to say that the Canadian outfit are at the very height of their powers. This is a night that will live long in the memory of all those lucky to be in attendance; a night that cements their position as unquestionably one of the best live bands on the planet.