the Arctic Monkeys came back through town last night. they've been all around the world since Mike and I caught them at the Phoenix in March. burned out their bass player who stayed home in England for this tour. fatigue or something.
but that's ok, because these guys are what this bands about.
love the ring of the guitars in all these songs. reminiscent of the best of Brit-pop through the years from the Jam through to the Clash. not that they have the weight of either of those two bands...yet.
one album and a few singles...20 great songs and counting.
summer's arrived a few days early as the humidex breaks the 40 degree c. mark and the temperature is hovering in the low 30's as doors open. my son Michael is joining Cece and I for the show. We Are Scientists is opening, which means nothing to me, but taped 'em anyway. in case they get famous. a very energetic and polished opening set. good on the Arctic Monkeys for not being afraid to have a real band support them. the Monkeys came on stage during two songs to lend support on vocals, drums and guitars, in celebration of this tour-ending gig as this is the 13th show of a 13 show North American Tour. the band moves on to Germany for some gigs and World Cup games next week. WAS continue on their solo tour in the US.
got a good spot right underneath the right stax, about 10' from the stage. it's loud. bone-rattling loud. just perfect. during the first set everyone was polite and kept their distance, giving me ample opportunity to focus in on a band ready to breakout. We Are Scientists are tough to catalogue. a three-piece, straight-ahead, rock ensemble, with a garage-band attitude and alt-rock sensibilities. the kids are learing fast these days as their stage-patter and between song fiddling was finished beyond their years. good pace to the short opening set. 40 minutes of blood stirring preparation for the main act. their set is torrenting at dime
did i mention it was hot? after a short half-hour break the lights are down and the Monkeys take the stage.
this is the Riot Van tour, i guess. i don't think it was played live on the last NA tour but it seems to be opening the shows on this go-round. the band is into the low-key number quickly and the audience sing-a-long is not far behind. these guys may not have a lot of fans yet but the one's they've got have internet access...'cause lyrics and song sequences are not foreign to anyone out here.
song closes with a kick in the head and the same sensation ensues as the band slams into View From the Afternoon, a song about anticipation of what the evening might bring...or not. he shoulda brought his bird though, 'cause those phone-mail-mea culpa's don't always cut it. we'll get the answer to this song a little later, in a couple forms.
a little nod to the cynical rock star and the candy they get in Still Take You Home. these guys write a ton of great little couplets, cutting, consice and crystal clear in meaning. they don't sneak up on you as much as they pounce on you and do a Muhammed Ali on your head. this one opens with a beauty:
"It’s ever so funny, I don’t think you’re special I don’t think you’re cool
You’re just probably alright, but under these lights you look beautiful"
next up the boys are out of their league with the upwardly mobile Cigarette Smoker Fiona.
on the surface it might seem the Monkeys are not to everyone's taste. their subject matter deals with the trials and tribulations of the 'coming of age' male...anywhere from 17 through to 22 years old...which pretty well covers their current cognitive state. delve deeper, these songs are filled with universal truths. astute observations on the human condition for such young men. their material should appeal to anyone who has been, will be or is a young man. and any women who might want to try to figure out what they're about. it's not a wasted lesson, most males are mired in their early 20's...at least in their own minds, if not real life.
crowd favorite in Vampires. a slap at the other bands in their local scene who'd rather drage them down into the hole they are in, than wish them success.
without a break they leap into a wonderful party song, Dancing Shoes. a story about wallflowers and how that don't lead to no good.
before they've even released their second album the Monkeys are targeting the inevitable backlash that will follow the unwarranted (and unasked for) hype. it's the star-making machinery that picks you, you don't pick it. Who the Fucks Arctic Monkeys? tells us they know we'll be asking the question as soon as the industry gets its claws into them.
did i mention it was hot? between songs the lead guitarist takes a towel to his frets and comes up with a new sound.
i want to be at the first concert where they don't play, I Bet That You Look Good On the Dancefloor. still getting radio airplay it's already an albatross. fans liked it though.
a whole song about jumping the queue, to no avail, in the simply enjoyable Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured. a total throw-away piece of smile inducing fluff. at breakneck speed. just like heaven.
the boys always have another story to tell us, that's what their catalogue is currently about...stuff that happened to me one night, one time, one minute. From Ritz to the Rubble is the story of how precarious favour can be...and how hard to come by for a skinny 19 year old geek. they have so much to say that they added a second song inside this one. what started out as an episode in line evolves into a drunken free-for-all and party night to be forgotten...the next day. ever wake up wondering what the f*ck you were thinking the night before?
a non-album song, Leave Before the Lights Come On leads us into the wonderfully sardonic, painfully honest tale of passion gone stale, Mardy Bum. funny to see a 20 year old longing for how things used to be. at least that's what he thinks is happening. the reason she 'has that face on', the reason she's so 'argumentative', is that she's probably growing up and just realizing the task she has ahead of her, molding this Nintendo-playing-fast-food-eating-party-till-you-puke boyfriend into something she can make use of.
lead singer tells us we have three songs left...if they played another 3 that would pretty well be everything they have, but they gotta leave you wanting something. tonight we're left wanting Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts because the show ends with the epic every-fathers-nightmare When the Sun Goes Down, a story about a young girl down on her luck and the scummy men that make her life even worse.
We Are Scientists lead singer/guitarist comes on to play the rhythm on Fake Tales of San Francisco, a final tip of the hat to a rousing opening band and tour partner.
show closes with the usual ringing guitars of A Certain Romance.
time well wasted.
the torrent should be running over at dime