Arctic Monkeys take Boston by storm
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By Jocelyn Cote
Often hailed as the biggest band in Britain today, Arctic Monkeys are no strangers to critical and chart success. However, after almost ten years of enthralling the UK, the band are only just finding an established following here in America. Their latest album, 2013’s AM, debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart, making it their highest-charting release across the pond, and lead single “Do I Wanna Know?” became their first song to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 76.
Thus, it did not come as a surprise when news went out that the band had booked, and in turn sold out, a show at Boston’s Agganis Arena, which boasts a seating capacity of 7,200.
Currently embarking on the AM Tour, this current leg takes the band across the east coast of the USA. The venues are predominantly more intimate spaces with capacities that average at around 1,500 people, but also include two arena shows: Thursday night’s show in Boston, and Saturday night’s show at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York City, the band’s largest US headlining show to date.
February 6 was thankfully without precipitation, but the bitter cold Massachusetts has become all too familiar with lately kept the queue lines for the show somewhat short by the band’s standards. Soon after doors opened, the arena slowly but surely filled out as the show’s two openers took the stage.
Chicago snotty punks and recent high school dropouts The Orwells opened the show, delighting the crowd with a display of angst-ridden tunes accompanied by the curious antics of lead singer Mario Cuomo, who would often be thrashing about on the floor or staggering across the stage with fingers running through a mane of tangled blonde hair. For 35 minutes, the band played through an electrifying set that left the audience content.
The second opening act was Georgia band Deerhunter, who have been billed as special guests for the tour’s two arena shows. Their inclusion was a curious one – while Arctic Monkeys specialize in more straightforward Rock ‘n’ Roll, Deerhunter stray to the more experimental side of things. Nonetheless, their set proved stunning, but seemed to garner mixed reviews from the audience for obvious reasons.
Playing songs from their two most recent releases, 2013’s Monomania and 2010’s Halcyon Digest, the band took the stage to a deafening wall of reverb and swirling guitars which persisted throughout the performance. Audience members covering their ears by the time their set drew to a close was not an uncommon sight. Dimly lit in a sea of purple and green light, the band’s shadowy presence added to their mysterious aura.
Soon, the night’s headliners finally took the stage, opening with aforementioned single “Do I Wanna Know?” Although the set was a bit short, clocking in at around 75 minutes, the energy from both the crowd and the band was immense.
Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, known for being a lady-killer of sorts with female fans of the band, drew screams from the crowd each time he took a comb to his gel-caked, jet black quiff or gave a nod to the audience. All enchanting aside, though, Turner proved to be a perfect example of a talented performer with the power to hold an entire arena in the palm of his hand.
That being said, however, it would be a crime to discredit the remaining members of the band. Guitarist Jamie Cook, bassist Nick O’Malley, and drummer Matt Helders all played an integral part in the show’s success.
The band drove through a powerhouse of a set heavily focused on new material, but brought back old favorites as well. Songs ranged from new favorites such as “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and “Arabella,” to time-tested classics such as “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor.” To the audience’s surprise, long-time friend of the band and fellow musician Miles Kane joined the band onstage for the main set closer, “505” – the first time he has done so in front of an American audience.
Closing out the show with a triple punch of “Cornerstone,” “One for the Road,” and “R U Mine?”, the Arctics enthralled their audience for one last time. From American cult classics to last year’s stateside breakthrough, the band is guaranteed to remain one to watch for years to come.