Arctic Monkeys roared through a raucous set during their first of two sold-out nights at the Fox on Thursday. Being a big fan, I got to the venue shortly before doors opened and saw the sight of dozens of other big fans, mostly of the younger variety.
Talk was high in line about the band’s latest album, AM, their fifth full-length that dropped earlier this month. AM made the highest chart debut in the U.S. of any Arctic Monkeys album, coming in at #6. While the usefulness of chart information is neither here nor there, it does speak to the British band’s growing popularity among U.S. audiences.
Where 2011’s Suck it and See was cemented in the sunnier, poppy side, AM is clad in leather, slick, and pining to take you home for the night. The album could have also been called something along the lines of Mine & Yours, because it’s no secret this album has a clear theme of belonging and possession.
Before Arctic Monkeys took the stage at the Fox, L.A. threesome Mini Mansions opened. Each member was clad in a three-piece suit of a different color, including Michael Shuman, bassist of Queens of the Stone Age. Mini Mansions’ psych-pop songs had potential, but were slightly drowned out by overwhelming bass and weak vocals.
Soon enough, Arctic Monkeys rolled out on stage and launched into “Do I Wanna Know?” the first single off of AM. Having seen the band a few times before and each time at different venues, I’m always reminded how great of musicians these guys are. And each time they have sounded so tight and clean, a near-perfect replication of their recordings–riff for riff, beat for beat. Lead singer Alex Turner wore an artfully crafted Teddy boy coif and played up practiced hand-dancing while both crooning into the mic and strumming guitar.
The band largely ignored the more lighthearted songs from Suck It and See, and played more of the loud, rock n’ rolling hits that were stylistically characteristic of previous albums. The rumbling nature of “Crying Lightning” and “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” erupted and mixed well with the rest of the setlist. New song “Arabella” was an utter volcano on stage, a killer performance of one of the more robust songs Arctic Monkeys have ever recorded.
Unignored, however, were fan favorites like “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “Do Me a Favour.” Turner made sure to dedicate the single that launched them to fame, “I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor” to the “laaa-dies”–and, yes, this song will still be playing in Target stores ten years from now.
One of the highlights of the set was the acoustic rendition of “Cornerstone,” the ballad off Humbug about possibly stalking a former lover. Another unexpected song was “No. 1 Party Anthem,” one of my favorites off of AM, which is, for all intensive purposes, a tongue-in-cheek jab at club bangers and anthems themselves.
As corny as it sounded when I explained it to my boyfriend after the show, I was swept up with the final song of the night and Turner’s banter beforehand. “Oakland, we’re are so glad to be playing here two nights in a row,” said Turner. “It’s like…we are yours, but the question is…” Seconds later the band closed their ninety minute set with “R U Mine?” I prefer a side of showmanship with my concerts at the Fox, and Arctic Monkeys delivered.