By Alva Casey
Artist: Arctic Monkeys
Date / Venue: Friday May 2nd, Vector Arena, Auckland
In 2006 the Arctic Monkeys were one of the first bands ever to break onto the scene by means of a fan base generated via social media. Last night their fans once more came through for the lads from Sheffield.
There was a surprising diversity in attendance - from teenage girls in knee socks to grown men who looked as though they became lost on their way to a Metallica concert.
At least there were two things they all agreed upon; the band on stage were kings and beer was the drink of the night. The sound quality was fantastic. The delivery so precise there were times where one pondered if it was even pre-recorded. A round of applause to the professionalism of the musicians and the team on audio that night. It was only later, during the recent hit ‘Do I Wanna Know' that it faltered as volumes hit piercing levels. The backdrop was beautiful and basic, 20 foot tall letters "A.M" in light bulbs. Throughout the show the lighting displays can only be described as precise and polished.
The whole show was a very polished affair. Not exactly what I expected. Like the transformation of their music from the frenetic explosion of ‘Whatever People Say I am, Thats What I am Not' to the latest ‘A.M', of which this tour is promoting, they have grown up and become slicker in style and delivery. The chaos and scruff of early years has evolved to smoother beats, Brylcreem, blazers, suspenders and shoes shone til you could see your own face in them.
Despite the difference between old and new they had no problems at all shifting speeds during the performance. It was probably tracks from the first beloved ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not' that evoked the biggest crowd reactions. Proof of long term fans in attendance, I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor had every woman in the arena on her feet, attempting to prove the statement.
Reflecting on the set, their first songs were bouncing with pop melody, warming us up gently. Before very long, the heavier tones of Arabella fused with Black Sabbath's ‘War Pigs' reminded us that these guys are not just a nice little indie band that you can take home to to mother, but cut from a tougher cloth. With wild energy now flowing, they moved us through a darker phase before slowing down, offering respite, as we moved to the conclusion.
Alex Turner had the crowd in the palm of his (probably) manicured hands - one flick of his had us waving ours in the air and when he proclaimed "No more fucking about" ahead of Brianstorm we obliged and pumped up our enthusiasm. We were advised that a favourite song from the new A.M was Fireside and so we responded with appreciation as per request.
Perhaps the confidence in their crowd control meant that they worried less about the frequent moments of pause, leaving their breathless fans hanging while they swapped instruments. A rare unpolished part of the gig.
My only other criticism would be that I would not have opened with their first song, One For The Road nor closed with 505. With such a catalogue to choose from, their choices seemed odd. One For The Road did nothing to rally the audience and Snap Out Of It for number two was only just starting to tickle our fancy. It wasn't until third time lucky Why Do You Only Call Me When You're High that we became intrigued.
Likewise leaving on 505 just left everyone a little suspended, convinced there must be one more tune to conclude. The last song before the encore Do I Wanna Know would have, in my opinion, been a far better finale. In its place as last song before the encore it had us all in ecstatic delight. That would have been the way to end. All this is before we even mention When The Sun Goes Down which didn't feature at all. Maybe they are sick of playing it but I certainly wasn't the only one craving its involvement.
However, when all is said and done, I loved it. The crowd loved it, I have yet to talk to a single soul who didn't love it. In that 1.5 hours I relived my teenage years. I'm not even sure I was a teenager the first time round, but youth is what the Arctic Monkeys inspire and I doubt that will ever change.