Despite popularity, their latest tour proves that their talent has not been bruised by media influence.
by Danielle Levsky
Who: Arctic Monkeys
When: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Where: “The Club” at Stage AE
A disclaimer: I have to start this review by admitting that I am a devoted, obnoxious, googley-eyed Arctic Monkeys fan… and I am proud.
Despite their quick and rising fame, their albums have remained consistently wonderful. Fourth albums are tricky, but they nail it with the slightly underwhelming, subtle grooves that one usually expects from The Arctic Monkeys. The new album displays the Arctic Monkeys’ maturity and progression as individuals, not just as artists.
But I’m not here to review their newest album: I’m here to review the tour of their new album. After a widespread summer tour, Alex and the gang took it up a notch to drag themselves across North America again (that’s right, North America, they were in Vancouver on September 28). They finished their tour in the ‘burgh at Stage AE… and what a finish it was.
I arrived with a group of friends, at 5:20 pm, waiting for the doors to open at 6. The opening band, The Smith Westerns, was a fluke. A few select devotees bobbed their heads and mouthed the lyrics, but the rest of the concert-goers seemed bored. Distant. Myself included. As an opener for the powerful bass, guitar and vocals that are the Arctic Monkeys, The Smith Westerns’ soft, barely-audible lyrics and mellow indie beats were a drastic contrast to the pounding rhythms the audience expected. The native Chicago indie group’s dreamlike songs filled the auditorium, but they received little to no reaction. Perhaps it was the lack of stage presence, or more importantly the fact that Cullen Omori (vocals), Cameron Omori (bass), and Max Kakacek (guitar) were like shadows because of poor lighting.
As Alex Turner (lead vocals, lead/rhythm guitar), Jamie Cook (rhythm/lead guitar), Nick O’Malley (bass guitar) and Matt Helders (drums) walked into the view, the crowd went into an uproar. A few women (and men) professed their undying love to Alex, a few screamed about having his babies, but all in all, the crowd was relieved and excited that the show they came for was about to start.
The set list combined classics and quite a few off the new album:
I’ve seen the Arctic Monkeys live three times as of this concert – first time in Milwaukee, WI, next during Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL, and finally, here in Pittsburgh. This was by far the most spectacular performance and mesmerized crowd reaction. Alex and Jamie had a great dynamic throughout the entire show. The audience responded to the energy from the performers. They did variations of a few songs – “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”, “Brick by Brick”, “When the Sun Goes Down”, “505” – by changing the tempo or pausing to let the audience fill in the lyrics. Alex hopped on the drums and jumped off during “This House Is a Circus”. The entire show was very playful; the band was having just as good of a time as the audience.
The flow of the set list added to the crowd’s excitement, especially when it came to favorites like “Brianstorm” and “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”. The transition from soft, slow ballads to fast-paced, intense melodies kept the crowd interested. Once the melodies became more upbeat and fast-paced, the crowd morphed into a monstrous circle pit, a wave carrying me (and probably some other short concert-goers) left, right, backwards, frontwards. Needless to say, I lost my friends somewhere between “The View from the Afternoon” and “This House Is a Circus”.
The highlight of the show was Alex’s announcement that the band would play a new song entitled “Evil Twin”. The audience – now more of a family with the amount of sweat and touches exchanged – went wild. Unless directed, the show-goers showed their appreciation for the music by bobbing their heads along or swaying their hands in admiration.
All in all, my boys shined… especially Alex.