When Arctic Monkeys dropped their first album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not in 2006, it was one of the hottest debuts the UK had ever seen. No big surprise that like most popular UK bands things haven’t developed quite as quickly for Arctic Monkeys here in the US. Still, here we are in 2013, and the band is at a point where they can sell out a respectful three nights staight in Los Angeles at the 2,300 capacity Wiltern Theater. A big part of their continually growing American profile is the acceptance of their most recent AM album, a release that just might top many year-end lists.
Always a winner live, the Arctic Monkeys has evolved into the kind of precise, energetic machine that not only rocks the floor of a venue from front to back, but also wills the normally quieter balcony audiences to pretty much ‘lose it’ just as well. Opening the show to a roar of familiarity was AM‘s first single “Do I Wanna Know”. The UK second single “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” also was a highlight that Sunday night, September 29. While the band’s sound has morphed into a more dark, and largely mid-tempo vibe with a bluesy feel over the years, the guys are wise enough to maintain the party atmosphere throughout their live show by performing their early songs like “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor”, “Dancing Shoes”, “Teddy Picker”, and “D is For Dangerous”.
Arctic Monkeys touched on all five of their studio albums throughout the night. Everything worked, with the moderate exception of the two slow songs they played in succession following “Dancefloor”. Historically, band leader Alex Turner is the kind of guy that can be a premier frontman just by standing and singing in one spot. Notable this time around at the Wiltern, he had become much more animated in presence. Alex has stated recently that he wants to play less guitar so that he can “prat” around the stage. A few years ago, the band played to a quiet but attentive main stage throng at Coachella. Alex showed his modesty by saying after the set that it was one of his favorite gigs. I was surprised by his reaction as I personally felt they deserved a far louder response.
Having headlined various festivals throughout this summer, Arctic Monkeys have got to be delighted with how things are going. And so must their fans. The merch lines at the Wiltern this past Sunday were far longer than the beer lines. Definitely a good sign for longevity.
Review and Photo by Bruce Rave
Arctic Monkeys (Official)
Reviewed by b3