Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys

With Pond

I've been lucky enough to see Arctic Monkeys twice before: At the Palace Theatre and at Festival Hall. Each time they played to a seemingly full house and while it was great to see them pack out an arena, part of me wishes they hadn’t. They've made a deserving leap to arena band status; I’ll just miss seeing them in true rock and roll venues.

Pond opened the night to hundreds of eagerly waiting teenage girls. It’s easy to forget what kind of a crowd the Arctic Monkeys attract but you are quickly reminded when you hear all the screaming. Pond were adequate as a support band but quite honestly failed to impress. All in all they don’t seem quite able to live up to their hype. The crowd enjoyed them nonetheless.

The huge letters 'A' and 'M' behind the stage pulsated like a heartbeat to the kick drum of their opening track, 'Do I Wanna Know?' -- also the opening track to their latest album. It was a sort of safe and somewhat expected opener but an excellent context setter. If you were worried heading in about a lack of depth in seeing four lads from Sheffield in an arena you wouldn't be after their overture. The band’s sound instantly filled the venue and the light show was spectacular. Alex Turner’s voice is so distinct and it carried effortlessly from the stage to the audience.

Just as Turner’s voice echoed powerfully through the arena, the falsetto backing vocals from the rest of the Monkeys was often the most exciting part as they headed on into 'Snap Out Of It' and 'Arabella' -- also new tracks.

There’s something about the new album AM's sound that lends itself well to a large venue: it’s full of songs you can enjoy from anywhere and not just in the thick of it. Whether it’s the garage rock chorus of 'Arabella' or the kind of funky dancing you do when 'Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High' is on, or the swaying-side-to-side brilliance of 'No. 1 Party Anthem', in which fucking everybody turned their phone lights on, creating an eerie yet beautiful light across Rod Laver's floor maw not from the stage.

The new album tracks went down well, but everyone in the audience knew we’d get some of the oldies too, and classics like 'Brainstorm', 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' and '505' were rightfully granted. Some worked better than others; it seemed a little hard sometimes for the innovative British indie rock sound to transpose to the arena, but any vibes the tracks had lost was made up for with dedicated singing from the fans.

After a chilling rendition of '505' they left the stage, coming back to massive applause yet again for their encore. After playing 'I Wanna Be Yours' Turner posed a question to the crowd: "I Wanna Be Yours Melbourne, but I want to know, R U Mine?” I for one was waiting for this song all night and there couldn’t have been a better way to end.

While they played all but two tracks from the new album, it didn’t really feel like anything was missing. The whole night felt like straight-up, classic Arctic Monkeys. Seeing your favorite bands go from dirty rock and roll venues to massive, clean arena shows is a weird thing, but in this case it's a positive one. It can only mean good things for the band and if they don’t break up they’ll be back in the smaller venues someday, rocking out the classic hits when we’re all in our 50s and 60s.
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