Feb 9, 2014

On the Scene: Arctic Monkeys at Madison Square Garden, 02.08.14

Liz Maher reports: Arctic Monkeys took the stage for a sold out show at Madison Square Garden clearly elated at having sold out tour t-shirts and pom pom hats. They also put on a good, not great show, though I’m sure audience adored them even in the death grip of Buyer’s Remorse at $30 for an acrylic hat which looks all too twee. Hell, I adore them - sooo cute! Remember best-beloveds, as the poet wrote, ‘the world is mud-licious and puddle-wonderful’. Monkeys would have been better, same show, at Alt-Venue-Shift-Delete-MSG which manages to distill almost every concert to the intimacy of a podiatry exam – then sports fans will tell you there is always the danger of falling off the step seat levels if you experience a Deleuzian moment of transcendence – of becoming Monkey. Another gripe is the show only covered 20 songs including encores. Yesterday’s annoying-in-an-amusing-way twits from Sheffield are today’s corporate slugs. (Continued after the jump.)

Opening strongly with Do I Wanna Know?, AM dominated with bits of the Monkey’s earlier work which hinted at adolescent promise unfulfilled despite the volte-face of acne. Maybe they will get a grant and go to Yaddo? So the show was heavier with the the poppy songs which put the AM in the acronym and those that allow Turner to croon in a lazy Las Vegas lounge, definitely not in on the self-parody, way. Hence, no Fake Tales of San Francisco and Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys? but a repetitive Dancing Shoes and I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor. Fluorescent Adolescent works as it’s ironically suited to this point in the Monkey’s (and I simply can not remove the image of the fat Monkey in fishnets from my mind’s eye despite sever rubbing and Visene). AM songs sound a lot better live -- speeded up. Arabella, which I find unlistenable on the recorded version has better progression live, same for Fireside, while Knee Socks is catchier live. Sometimes the bricks have to be placed faster even if they still go Brick by Brick.

Turner doesn't seem comfortable, a bit stiff like he has an unpleasant yeast infection underneath his Paul Smith demimonde tailoring. He is almost apologetic for stepping out more dramatically than ever before as front adolescent man of the Monkeys in a way that Angus Young was not whilst on axe duty with AC/DC. Again, Turner: not in on his own joke. He has no choice as he’s clearly the most talented Monkey, which raises the 10th Monkey scenario as an origin myth, and Turner is even more important given the demands of cute-boy pop appeal and the temporal nature of beauty Baudelaire versed about although Mr. B was writing about an old whore. Then again, if the metaphor fits, but oh we are not in on the joke. The cute one, Turner is not l’etoile and will remain so until he ceases getting carded in the lounge. Perhaps this is why Turner has adopted a costumed persona of onstage that mixes Johnny Cash, Elvis and Justin Bieber. His exchanges with the audience were somewhat forced too as were his hip gyrations and lunges. I was thinking trochanteric bursitis at some point, but in a cute way. It would benefit him to take flexibility classes and watch videos of the Psychedelic Furs' lead Richard Butler for uniquely Anglo-lunatic pop poet body moves which are somehow cartilage friendly. Most importantly, Turner has a sweet voice. A strong, clear sweet voice. His Da’ must of placed him onna’ barstool at age 3 to sing a wee bit at closing. Comparisons other than Bobby Sherman don’t really do justice here but for the record: his voice is stronger, but less saccharine, than Drake’s in the ridiculous Monkey’s cover of Hold On We’re Going Home. I hate that song. Turner did an admirable job singing All My Loving with a nifty light show and disco balls. It was London 2012 Opening Ceremony all over again. Turner made some remote comparison of the Monkeys to The Beatles but then backed away from it. Shrewd move. Own it Turner. Then answer this question: Why are so many of your songs questions?

Jamie Cook is my favorite Monkey, sporting long hair and looking a bit stocky. Turner doesn’t play as much so his part has increased in a low key way. One imagines he would make a great furry and get up to some sick shit in a bunny costume. Guitar players in the shadows and guests like Miles Kane take up some of the slack git work. Nick O’Malley is also hairier and heavier. Their instruments weren’t amped up enough. Mat Helders drums always stand out but he needs to pound harder. Don’t think, just go Mat. His multiple costume changes during the show are interesting and he’s always facing left to sing in that high pitch response to Turner which must mess up his neck. PT for the AMs.

As stated, Miles Kane made a guest appearance. We were hoping it would have been the “ginger Elvis” Josh Homme but nope, Miles Kane. So now, we’re just hoping Queens of the Stone Age take the Monkeys in their next new direction as now that he can drive, Turner should move onto the hard stuff.

While The 1975 and London Grammar are more interesting to me now, Monkeys don’t disappoint. They don’t astound either though but their style is subtle and tidy. Do I Wanna Know? and to a lesser degree Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? do a remarkable job conveying the disinterested disappear of the Monkeys’ generation (and others as well.) Best moment of the night was when the dark skinned ladies who danced infectiously throughout the night in the GA pit fell down in simultaneous ecstasy when 505 started. I wondered if they were hired party motivators to liven up the giddy audience.

Too much Walking Dead (the series and the cab driver) and botched connections caused me to miss Deerhunter. The poet also wrote ‘undead isn’t being alive’. Merch for sale on the AM fan club site.

Set List:
Do I Wanna Know?
Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair
Snap Out Of It
Crying Lightening
Old Yellow Bricks
Knee Socks
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Dancing Shoes
Pretty Visitors
I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor
I Wanna Be Yours
Fluorescent Adolescent

All My Loving
One For the Road
R U Mine?

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