Credit Arcade Fire singer Win Butler for his great power of recall.
During the band's performance Thursday night at the Concert Club at Scottrade Center, Butler apologized for the group's previous appearance in St. Louis, a 2004 opening set with fellow Canadians the Unicorns at the long-gone Rocket Bar downtown.
"Sorry about that show, for anyone who was there, all two of you," he said.
Arcade Fire has come quite a long way since the Rocket Bar.
The group stunned the music industry when it won the album of the year trophy at the Grammy Awards in February. It was a smart choice, though not necessarily the most popular one among many Grammy viewers.
Not resting on its laurels, the band forged ahead with a tour that included the National on its St. Louis date.
Arcade Fire's album "The Suburbs" topped most best-of lists last year, and the show brought St. Louis' hipster rock fans to Scottrade. It's safe to say the band improved on that 2004 show here.
Coming attractions shown on the stage backdrop promoted a project that would "drive an entire town over the edge." And if great music can do that, that's what Arcade Fire did to St. Louis.
On a cluttered stage packed with instruments that seemed small with the seven-member Arcade Fire on it, the band performed under a set that looked like a vintage movie marquee. The closely grouped musicians formed two rows across the stage and appropriately opened with the Strokes-like song "Ready to Start" from "The Suburbs," playing a trippy, alternate ending that was nearly spellbinding.
Arcade Fire has a way of making its performances seem effortless and loose, as if the musicians are doing whatever they feel like doing at the time. A lot of noise is always going on.
But it all combines in epic ways on songs including "Rococo," "Keep the Car Running," "No Cars Go" and "Modern Man."
And whenever singer and multi-instrumentalist Regine Chassagne takes the lead from Butler, her husband, the music shifts to an '80s vibe, as it did during "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" or "Haiti."
Butler said the band was "still getting used to this arena rock thing, but a room is a room, right?" And it kept the crowd on its feet from early songs "Rebellion," "Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)" and "Empty Room" straight through an encore that included "Month of May" and "Power Out."
The show left us wondering: How soon can we get Arcade Fire back?
Socially awkward opening band the National was the perfect support for Arcade Fire, so perfect that Butler said the National had no business opening for Arcade Fire. The National performed selections from its album "High Violet" and more, and the music was as haunting and atmospheric as it was melodic and beautiful.