Walking in off the street blissfully ignorant of music industry hype spun by writers as interested in their own personal reputation as the quality of the music they're experiencing, an avid pop-rock music fan would have been happily blown away by the confidence, songwriting prowess, and sheer joy of an Arctic Monkeys concert. From the crack of "A View From the Afternoon" to the delicate beauty of "A Certain Romance," the band's set was an hour of magic.
Out of the Spotlight...Back to the Club
Since a significant number of music critics attending the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas this past week were probably there specifically to deflate positive band reputations and attempt to inflate their own by 'discovering' the next great thing, it's no wonder the Arctic Monkeys ran into a buzz-saw of writers bearing knives and claws. Back in their native environment of the small club at the Metro in Chicago on Saturday, March 18, the night after their Austin appearance, their magic was back and in abundant evidence. Unfortunately, even the writers of the Chicago Tribune missed it, drawn instead by the bright lights of Austin.
Connecting With the Crowd
At the tender age of 19, lead vocalist, songwriter and guitarist Alex Turner already appears with a confident stage presence eager to engage the crowd. It was an eclectic crowd to engage ranging from adoring British expats to musically savvy youngsters with parents in tow. However, the power of the band and its music soon had those present happily shouting along to choruses of "I Bet That You Look Good on the Dance Floor," their debut #1 hit in the UK.
The rest of the band frequently retreats to the background onstage happily giving Turner the floor as the band's frontman, but their support is near flawless. Drummer Matthew Helders provides frequent backing vocals and harmonies that add depth to the Arctic Monkeys' sound.
Setting the Record Straight on Arctic Monkeys
Media attempts to deflate the accomplishments of Arctic Monkeys focus heavily on the fact that their album debuted only at #24 on US charts after being a #1 smash hit in the UK. It seems responsible to point out that the band has already outstripped early performance of many of their legendary, revered musical ancestors.
It took the Clash 5 American releases to get to the lofty position of #24 on the album chart. The Jam never even approached the top 50. The Sex Pistols failed to break the top 100 of the album chart. Interestingly, much of the American music press have declared the Strokes, a band often used as comparison point for the Arctic Monkeys, as a failure at the 'next big thing' although their recently released 3rd album opened at #4 on the album chart and yielded a top 10 modern rock single. As the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner has uttered..."don't believe the hype"...particularly when the facts are obscured.
See Them While You Can
Although tickets are most likely sold out for most of the Arctic Monkeys' remaining concert dates, tickets are still readily available from resellers. This is your chance to see a band with a future, a reverence for classic music that came before, and the intelligence and confidence to give it all their unique interpretation up close and personal in an intimate club setting. After hearing nearly the entire, tight one hour set, you'll revel in being blown away by concert closer "A Certain Romance" as it effortlessly shifts from power chords to elegant, sparse chiming guitar, to loping ska. You won't be disappointed.