Arctic Monkeys put on a confident show
The Arctic Monkeys made their second appearance in Pittsburgh on Oct. 18 at Stage AE, coming off the release of their latest album, Suck It and See. When this album came out in June, it was clear that the band was departing from the experimental style of its third album, Humbug, but not exactly returning to the form of the group’s first two albums. Both the newly developed style and confidence were obvious during the performance.
The Smith Westerns opened the concert, playing some of their more popular tracks, such as “Weekends.” While they were very enjoyable for an opening band, excitement was clearly building for the Arctic Monkeys’ performance. Going straight into “Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” the Arctic Monkeys built the atmosphere quickly for the high-energy show.
The band was able to balance playing songs from all four of its albums, leaning only slightly toward newer material. By the third song, “Crying Lightning,” the liveliness of the crowd had increased dramatically, continuing over less energetic tracks like “She’s Thunderstorms.” The show reached a peak when the band performed “Still Take You Home” off its first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
The performance suffered slightly when the band played “Evil Twin,” an unreleased track that will most likely come out as a B-side to “Suck It and See.” This dip in energy, due only to the crowd’s unfamiliarity with the song, was brief. The excitement returned as drummer Matt Helders began to sing “Brick By Brick,” an upbeat song that hearkens to many different eras of rock and roll.
The audience was fully invigorated when the band performed “When The Sun Goes Down.” During the encore, the fan favorite “Fluorescent Adolescent” kept fans singing along with the lyrics. The Arctic Monkeys closed the show with “505,” as they did when they played at Mr. Small’s Theatre in 2009. This performance had a heavy mood throughout the verses and an intense fervor during the chorus, creating an excellent ending to the show.
The most noticeable aspects of the show were the atmosphere of the venue and the confidence of the band. Stage AE loses much of the ambiance of the more intimate Mr. Small’s Theatre, yet the high-energy set list created a greater level of excitement than the group’s first Pittsburgh show, which focused mainly on its psychedelic rock-influenced material from Humbug.
The Arctic Monkeys have obviously grown as a band; lead singer and guitarist Alex Turner in particular was channeling something of a James Dean swagger and maintained a strong repartee with the crowd. The band is growing up, both in its musical style and its stage persona. The Arctic Monkeys are no longer just a few teenagers from Sheffield who bang out some riffs laden with distortion. They are now true performers, combining their original spirit with a more mature sound to put on an exhilarating show.