Show Review

Arctic Monkeys

Live @ Schottenstein Center

Brian Ahnmark
How does a band as electrifying as England’s Arctic Monkeys maintain
an incognito profile on this side of the pond, going about its
workman-like business beneath the American radar?

It’s a wonder, particularly considering scalding performances like the
one on March 4 at the Schottenstein Center, opening for The Black
Keys. The UK quartet lit a fire under a reserved crowd that seemed
baffled how to process such a snarling presentation (Here's a hint,
folks: You dance).

Unlike their contemporaries, the Arctic Monkeys have neither imploded
(The Libertines) nor faded into self-imposed oblivion (Franz
Ferdinand). Rather, they have carved out a comfortable dwelling by
welding frantic dance grooves with thick riffs, slowing the tempos as
they’ve matured without losing an ounce of the energy that once found
them the most breathlessly-hyped band on the planet.

Sunday’s delivery was a 16-song pummeling – a surprisingly lengthy set
for a “special guest,” sure, but deserved due to their pedigree. The
bludgeoning sludge of opener “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your
Chair” fed into the taut goose-step of “Teddy Picker” and the
pulsating rhythms of “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “Brianstorm,”
courtesy the heart attack pace keeping of drummer Matt Helders.

This was no night for reflective pauses or dilly-dallying, as the
Monkeys plowed through early classics “The View From The Afternoon”
and “I’ll Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” within the first seven
songs of their set. Things have steadied for the band since the 2006
release of their universally-lauded debut Whatever People Say I Am,
That’s What I’m Not. The impressively prolific output that has
followed – four albums and multiple EPs in five years – set up a
handful of fearless curveballs on Sunday, such as the
haunted-house-creepy “Pretty Visitors” from 2009’s Humbug and B-side
“Evil Twin.”

Another treat was a menacing rendition of “R U Mine?” a song so new
that the wax is still warm to the touch. This fresh tune appeared out
of thin air via YouTube on February 26 and has already racked up
nearly two million views.

The conductor of the madness is frontman Alex Turner and his
tongue-twisting, rapid-fire vocal assault. All evidence suggests that
Turner emerged from the womb fully armed to front a band. He doesn’t
sing lyrics so much as spit sermons, essays, manifestos. A broken
guitar string nearly turned catastrophic on “Fluorescent Adolescent,”
because while a guitar tech brought a new six-string out to Turner, he
could scarcely remove his lips from the mic to sling the strap over
his shoulder.

Set closer “When The Sun Goes Down” featured a prelude and coda with
Turner singing alone, accompanied only by his clean electric guitar
(sandwiching insane thrashing throughout the song’s meaty center).
Turner lingered as the rest of the band exited the stage, as if he
could not bear the thought of leaving.

That sentiment, combined with the gloriously violent spectacle of the
preceding hour, finally converted the remaining skeptics and brought
the Schottenstein crowd to its feet.

Still trailing those wily Brits in some aspects of musical taste, but
perhaps now we’re gaining ground.


Setlist

Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
Teddy Picker
Crying Lightning
Fluorescent Adolescent
Brianstorm
The View From The Afternoon
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Pretty Visitors
Suck It And See
Library Pictures
Evil Twin
R U Mine?
Brick By Brick
This House Is A Circus
Still Take You Home
When The Sun Goes Down