Arctic Monkeys @ The Riviera 12/6/09

[file photo from stereogum]

Arctic Monkeys played to a packed house Sunday at The Riviera, but these clearly are not the same blokes that hit the British and American dance rock scene in 2006.  The emphasis now is on the dark and the heavy as evidenced by the dim lighting and wafting smoke screen onstage.  Gone also are the track jackets, hooded sweatshirts, gym shoes, short hair and overt Britishness.  This is a band that with Humbug has rather dramatically switched up their style to a stoney psychedlia-infused jammy sound, with the notable exception of current single “Cornerstone.”

One constant throughout the band’s evolution has been the stellar drum pounding by Matt Helders.  He was the talent that stood out the most Sunday night.  His bass drum read Agile Beast, which described his assault quite suitably.  Perhaps what surprised me most was seeing frontman Alex Turner ditch his guitar and perform Humbug tracks “Potion Approaching” and “Pretty Visitors” microphone in hand.  While I enjoy Humbug and my favorite song of the night was “My Propeller,” for me Turner’s best work is with his side project Last Shadow Puppets.  If he could find a way to fold in some of the orchestral stylings of that group into Arctic Monkeys I wonder how that might sound.

Some of their older songs [“The View From The Afternoon” and “Fluorescent Adolescent”] were played with reworked arrangements that mixed up the flow of the 75 minute set.  The fact that their audience still cares and display devotion (the most crowd surfing I have seen at a show in years) is a testament to the longevity of what I first suspected might be a one-off, flash in the pan band like so many of today’s fast ascending artists.   

Setlist:

1.Dance Little Liar
2. Brianstorm
3. This House Is A Circus
4. Still Take You Home
5. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
6. Potion Approaching
7. Pretty Visitors
8. Red Right Hand [Nick Cave cover]
9. My Propeller
10. Crying Lightning
11. The View From The Afternoon
12. Cornerstone
13. Fluorescent Adolescent
14. Secret Door
15. Do Me A Favour
16. The Jeweller’s Hands

Encore
17. If You Were There, Beware
18. 505

 

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