Arctic Monkeys bring heavier stoner sound to sold-out Stage AE



Alex Turner hit the stage looking like a rockabilly stud in a black Western shirt and jet-black greaser hair.

Rockabilly, though, isn’t among the many specialties of Arctic Monkeys, a band that has been reluctant to commit to any one style.

The band England fell in love with just under a decade ago played a jittery form of garage pop in the Oasis/Strokes camp.

The one that played Stage AE Tuesday night sold out the place via a heavier stoner sound discovered in the desert of California. The Monkeys addressed that right away, launching the show with the slow thumping beat and menacing riff radio hit “Do I Wanna Know?”

Fortunately, this was not a crowd that came for one song. From the front row to the back of the lawn, the fans were plugged in throughout.

The songs and tight playing from the quartet (and two supplemental musicians) had to carry the night. Like the indoor show three years ago, it was a stripped-down production and the Monkeys have little in the way of showmanship other than Mr. Turner being cool and British and aloof. He didn’t have much to say other than a few quick intros like “This one’s for the girls” leading into the jumpy early single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.”

The 75-minute set contained almost the entire “AM,” ranging from the Spoon-like funk of “Arabella” (copping a piece of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”) to the Bowie-esque romanticism of “No. 1 Party Anthem.” It’s safe to say the band is in love with its new work, and knows the crowd is too, when all three encores — “One for the Road,” “I Wanna Be Yours” and “R U Mine?” (very Monkeys of the Stone Age) — came from the 2013 record.

They reached into the distant past for the whiplash “Brianstorm” and “Dancing Shoes” and not-too-distant past for T Rex-sounding “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair,” the slow dance “She’s Thunderstorms” and “Library Pictures,” with one of the night’s better musical freak outs.

With Arctic Monkeys you can’t really say they left it all on the stage — to me, this show never hit that cosmic level — but what fans did get was cool Anglo-style and some extra punch in the songs.

On the last trip — inside, three years ago — the Monkeys brought lush glam/psych band Smith Westerns. This time, it was the less compelling and less compatible White Denim from Austin, taking more of a spazzy jam-band approach.


Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576. Twitter: scottmervis_pg First Published June 18, 2014 12:00 AM

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