I have to be honest, I was a bit shocked when I found out that The Arctic Monkeys had sold out back-to-back nights at the spacious Armory venue in Minneapolis. With a capacity of around 8400 people, selling out one night is a feat so to hear that a band sold out two, well, you have my attention. Add to this that the last time I really thought about The Arctic Monkeys was years, to say I was intrigued and excited would be an understatement.
I wasn’t surprised when the show was pushed back by about half an hour. The lines wrapping through the downtown area were epic to say the least. I honestly think the last time I saw lines that long was back when The Jonas Brothers played a free show at The Armory for the Final Four. Rumor has it that the delayed start was due to the fact that the lines were still epic. Although I can not completely confirm this to be true, I will say it would make sense. Although I spent the extra time catching up on emails, I found myself captivated by the constant stream of people coming through the doors into the hangar-like venue.
At first, I was a bit annoyed at the delay but as soon as opening act Fontaines D.C. took the stage, I realized it was more than worth the wait, Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Fontaines D.C. is one of those bands that I really knew very little about as they took the stage but, before they even kicked into their first song, I wanted to know everything I could about this act. Vocalist Grian Chattan came out to the stage and instantly brought an enormous amount of energy to the air. Although they are more of a post-punk band than anything else, Grian had an energy that reminded me of a hardcore act. He paced the stage with a sense of fury and intensity before grabbing the microphone and leading the band into a forty-minute set that, in all honesty, felt way too short.
Although I didn’t recognize any of the songs that Fontaines D.C. played, I recognized the talent. Every song came through the sound system as crisp and clear as I have ever heard. Every movement made by the band seemed to have a purpose even if that purpose was only to amp the crowd up. It worked and there were moments throughout their quick opening set where it felt as if Fontaines D.C. may as well be the headliner for the night.
I realize I am super late to the Fontaines D.C. train as they have been around since 2014 but I am onboard after seeing them on Friday night and I have a feeling that my Saturday will be spent diving into their discography.
Formed in 2002, English rockers Arctic Monkeys are one of those bands that has such a distinct sound that it’s never a question if a certain song is theirs or not. The spotlight found the band after the release of their 2006 album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ which contains their huge hit (and a personal favorite of mine) “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”. Don’t get me wrong, I know this band is so much more than that hit and the few hits that came after but, for some reason, I just never hooked onto this band like many other people did.
Don’t get me wrong, I was captivated by what was happening on the stage but, before I get into that, I just have to mention the audience. I was expecting an older audience. I mean, this band is from the early 2000’s and has a bit of a vintage sound on top of that. I was surprised as I realized there were so many young people in the audience. Those young people absolutely showed up and gave the night their all much like the band did. During the first few notes of the first song, I found myself watching the audience a bit more than the band. I loved seeing all of the arms in the air as everyone on the ground jumped in unison to the infectious beats. I know this happens at majority of the shows I go to but there was something different about this time. It was captivating and was definitely an element of the show that will not be soon forgotten.
Like Fontaines D.C., Arctic Monkeys sounded absolutely flawless. Every word and every note came through clearly creating a live set that, if recorded, probably could have easily been mistaken as a studio album (had it not been for the screeching crowd). Vocalist Alex Turner didn’t miss a single beat and, although it was absolutely recording quality, I feel like he was adding a little flare of drama with his energy and performance that you just couldn’t get from sitting at home and listening to the albums.
Don’t get me wrong, the entire band was great and everyone was given their time to shine throughout the set but Alex has a way of commanding a crowd on his own to the point where, at times throughout the set, I almost forgot that there were more people on stage than just him. From moments where he came off as a true rocker to moments where he felt more like a timeless crooner, his energy, like his voice, was absolutely magnetic.
I want to expand on that timeless crooner mention just for a second. I think it’s safe to say that Arctic Monkeys sound is classic and timeless. There’s something a bit vintage and retro about it that makes it sound just right for lack of a better term. The way the band translated this vibe into their live set had me falling head over heels in love with them more than I would have from just listening to their music. The set, although it clearly had a huge production value, felt a bit understated at first glance. There was a cool backdrop complete with a screen in the center that would show the various members throughout the set and there was an epic disco ball but, beyond that, there was no smoke and mirrors when it came to Arctic Monkeys’ performance. I feel like this is a bit old school but also something that I wish would come back. The performance kind of reminded me of seeing The Killers at The Xcel Energy Center just under a year ago and I loved it.
Whether or not you call yourself a fan of The Arctic Monkeys, they are a band that just has to be seen live. They perform with so much heart and soul and have such a polished sound when performing that I guarantee you will leave their show feeling like you got more than your money’s worth.