Arctic Monkeys Review - Motorpoint Arena Cardiff Nov 1st
As a live band the Arctic Monkeys have always been notoriously minimalist; no pomp, no grandeur, sparse banter...
After the inconvenience of working a job and the inability of transporting myself anymore, my intentions of catching The Vaccines was soon put to bed on arrival; having essentially missed their entire set. I still partially blame whoevers bright idea it was to open doors at 6pm alongside having to earn a living. This left me only getting to see the last two songs of the set, though The Vaccines being the stand up gentleman they are, had left two of their best songs until last for me; If You Wanna and Norgaard. Similarly to when I last/first saw them there was no stage show, just a four man guitar band leaving the songs speak for themselves, in a tight and energetic performance, lifting the songs above their already sound recorded counterparts.
Not too dissimilar from how our main event this evening started out, but the times they have changed. As a live band the Arctic Monkeys have always been notoriously minimalist; no pomp, no grandeur, sparse banter. Even right back to everybodys first glimpse of the band with the Old Grey Whistle Test aping I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor video, its been four lads playing their songs, and thats all youve needed. Arctics gigs have always been about the music and the crowds enjoyment of the music, with the band carrying no rock star swagger, just four quietly confident, if contrary, boys from Sheffield. After having noticed a couple of lighting riggers clambering through the rafters making last minute adjustments to some stadium looking lighting, I had started to get a feeling that the stage show of four backing lights, and four backing lights alone, when I saw them here last time on the Your Favourite Worst Nightmare tour might have had an upgrade. Suitably lubricated, after the 40 minute wait between bands, the crowd are already singing along before the band have hit the stage when their typically tongue-in-cheek and dryly delivered humour reveals their entrance music as Hot Chocolates You Sexy Thing. Clad in leather and quiffs (with the exception of bassist Nick OMalley who appears to have not gotten the memo) the band stride on to rapturous applause, where before they would have shuffled. Still low lit, Errol Brown is brought to silence and the opening strains of Dont Sit Down 'cause Ive Moved Your Chair get proceedings proceeded with the songs lyrical challenges to dangerous liaisons, then it hits. The riff proper kicks in and this isnt an indie gig, this is a rock gig. The lighting rig erupts with the crowd and the riff, with artily directed displays portraying the band at large. Within the opening moments of the set the band proudly display how things have changed, and their clear intentions for a live setting now; bigger, louder, heavier and grander. Of the lot, Alex Turner is most notably carrying his newfound realisation of rock star status with some swagger. No longer firmly planted at his mic stand and shielded by his guitar, he prowls now. Wandering the stage making some very intense eye contact and points to the crowd, occasionally challenging the crowd to get louder with conductor like hand gestures. Even going so far as falling to his knees a Jamie Cooks feet during an instrumental break, and taking the guitar off completely to summon the organ like a greaser druid and a full stage stalk during Pretty Visitors. Looking like a cross between Danny from Grease and that kid playing Lennon in Nowhere Boy, whilst channelling the spirit of Josh Homme. Its safe to say Mr Turner believes the hype these days.
The band though, as ever are tight as hell (driven by Matt Helders powerhouse performance behind the kit) and the crowd lap up everything their dished, responding accordingly with either full on sing-along for the earlier stuff or even breaking into moshpits for the heavier stuff, or in some cases even the poppier stuff; during The Hellcast Spangled Shalalala whilst stood between two separate pits a mess blood sprayed past as a pit scuffle escalated to a brutal face pounding, before more punches were thrown and it was separated as the crowd filled in the gaps it left. Its only really the newer stuff that gets a lesser response from the crowd, perhaps still getting used to what Suck It And See has to offer, or just not being as keen, or a combination of both. Suffice to say though the set itself is very evenly spread mix of the four albums and isnt at all heavy on the new material, touching on the majority of the key tracks from the bands back catalogue. With new B Side Evil Twin getting an airing to, and to a good response, it could be a sign of the future which would be sounding somewhere between the angular rhythms of the earlier material and the rock n roll heaviness of some of the newer. Having made my way to the front, the latter stages of the set were seen from the barrier; crushed, drenched in sweat, beer, possibly piss and under fire of crowd surfers. A telling sign of how things have come along since the beginning, not just the band or their stage show, but their audience and the feel of their gigs. No longer indie darlings hiding behind their tunes; theyre rock stars and they know it, and their fans know it. From a band who didnt do encores, the encore is given away when the guitar techs come on and tune the guitars and check the mics whilst the crowd chant for more under cover of darkness, it spoils it a little bit, but lets face it everyone knows generally speaking a band will do an encore anyway, its just cockteasing at the end of the day. They come back on to louder roars than when they started and play through new crowd pleaser Suck It And See, a possibly sarcastic, though sing along inducing, rendition of long since banished from the set Mardy Bum and dramatic 505 leaving the crowd awash in feedback. Still wanting more. Don't Sit Down 'cause I've Moved Your Chair Teddy Picker Crying Lightning The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala Black Treacle Brainstorm The View From The Afternoon I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor Evil Twin Brick By Brick Pretty Visitors This House Is A Circus Still Take You Home Dance Little Liar She's Thunderstorms Fluorescent Adolescent Do Me A Favour When The Sun Goes Down Encore Suck It And See Mardy Bum 505