Although Arctic Monkeys have been around for eight years, they still feel like a new band to me. So when they announced what I perceived to be three ambitious shows at The Wiltern, I did a little research and realized they’ve actually been really busy over the last near-decade. In that short amount of time they have released five albums (three of which have gone platinum at least once), toured the world several times over, played the opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympics, and created a rabid following of fans of all ages.
My ears are still ringing from the consistent screaming that took place during Sunday’s concert. Someone must have put out a memo reminding all fans to scream at every possible moment of silence throughout the show because the Arctic Monkeys’ entire set was a constant British Invasion-style scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs fest.
Los Angeles’ Mini Mansions set the stage for the evening, opening with their style of dark and groovy indie rock. The group has built a good following around LA, playing several local venues, including a residency at the Bootleg Theatre. They have also spent the last four years touring extensively around the globe with several notable acts, including Foster The People and The Kills. Their haunting cover of Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” may have gone over the heads of some of the younger Arctic Monkeys fans, but the rest of the crowd loved their tribute, and with their slow and dynamic sound, Mini Mansions served as the perfect excitement builder for the Arctic Monkeys.
When the Arctic Monkeys took the stage, I swear you could feel the room shaking from the audience’s screams. This type of sheer electricity in an audience is rarely found in Los Angeles (unless Beiber is on stage, of course).
They kicked off their set with “Do I Wanna Know?,” the opening track off their latest effort, AM. After a quick “How are you feeling Los Angeles?” from frontman Alex Turner, followed by (you guessed it) a thousand shrieking fans, the strobe lights kicked in in conjunction with their heart-pounding “Brainstorm.”
The giant illuminated “AM” that decorated the stage changed colors throughout the show, constant reds, yellows, purples, and blues shining over the crowd in an epileptic frenzy. Along with the band’s pure stage presence, this was an amazing display. Alex Turner has an onstage persona that rivals that of Elvis Presley. Though his thick, suburban British accent is near impossible to understand over a massive PA system, all Turner would have to do is mutter his “ABC’s” and give the crowd a smile and nod to make them go wild.
The members of Arctic Monkeys don’t move around a lot on stage, but they don’t have to. Their group aesthetic is well thought out, and their debonaire suits and haircuts perfectly complement their high-energy sound. The minor gestures given throughout the show are timed perfectly and play the audience like a fifth member of the band.
My only complaint is about the drummer. He is so talented, smart, and tasteful in his playing that my grievance doesn’t really hold much weight, but with everyone on stage looking so damn good, you’d think he could dress up a little more. But every time I see the Arctic Monkeys live, it seems he prefers comfort to style and sports sweatpants and a t-shirt. As a drummer myself, I understand the necessity of comfort while playing, but if the rest of the band looks that spiffy, at least change out of your PJs.
Despite the offsetting evening wear, Arctic Monkeys played perfectly. The confident energy they give off stirs the audience like a boiling pot. I don’t anticipate my hearing returning anytime soon, and I don’t really mind; the show was worth it. When leaving the venue, I saw a line of fans behind the building holding t-shirts and records, waiting for the band to come out in hopes of getting an autograph. It really was one of the most genuine displays of rock & roll I have seen in some time.
Their final show in LA tonight is sold out (as is the majority of their world tour), so unless you are lucky enough to have tickets, make sure you pay more attention than I have next time. Keep track of the Arctic Monkeys and see them every chance you get.
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