One thing I can say about the Arctic Monkeys is that they own any stage they step on to. Wednesday night they dominated the platform at the Orpheum Theater in Vancouver, with an explosive set. Opening the night were those indie boys from Illinois, Smith Westerns. By the time everything was said and done I simply stayed sitting in my seat. A bewildered smirk on my face and a sense that I had just saw something pretty important.
I started the evening off by arriving at the venue just before the gang from Smith Westerns setup shop. Walking through the hipster ridden crowd, I noticed the merchandise table had some tasty treats. One of which was a limited edition print, from a run of 100. It was a simple but beautiful piece. They were quickly being wrangled by the crowd. So I jumped in and bought one out of sheer panic.
Soon after I found myself standing at the back of the room in the theater, watching the first act setup. Within minutes the public address system announced it was one minute until show time. The room sank into darkness. The silhouettes of Cullen Omori, Cameron Omori, and Max Kakacek scattered on to the stage. When their first note danced across the audience, everyone in the room instantly devoted their full attention. The sound was a little muddy at first, but cleared up by the second song.
The threesome has this great sound. At times they feel like The Troggs and other times they feel like they have some Bowie in their blood. Whatever label you want to stick on them, they are definitely indie and are quite capable of rocking your socks off. I can say that after watching them perform live, I walked away with a great appreciation for them, and am looking forward to catching any future shows they bring our way.
After the openers had exited, it was time for some resetting of the equipment. As usual the masses fled to refuel, but promptly returned. It was long before the house lights lowered once again. A heavy dose of theatrical smoke blanketed the stage. From the haze emerged Alex Turner and the boys. Alex with his greaser bouffant and leather jacket, brought a touch of punk to the night. That very moment would be the last time through the night that I physically observed the band in any detail. Because the second that guitar rang out, the second those drums beat through the air, I was lost in the moment. This band is a pleasure to watch.
Alex strutted around the stage with a playful attitude, as he bellowed out a heartfelt vocal contribution. Jamie Cook was mesmerizing during the night, as he worked the guitar with a bit a mystery and aggression. Nick O’Malley was spastic in his attack on his bass. His interplay with Matt Helders on drums was organic and pure. The band is cohesive as a unit, they music is so balanced and well orchestrated. Watching them perform live was a treat.
As I looked across the crowd I could see that I was not the only one feeling this way. At times people would be dancing around and as if completely absorbed by the sound. While other times they were standing perfectly still, just staring with their lips slighted parted and a look of amazement on their faces. This band is the real deal. You may like their albums or may have heard they put on a great show. But unless you have seen them you could not even fathom their chemistry and presence.
Like I said by the end of the night I just sat in my chair. The mass exodus took place, but I simply sat. I watched as the roadies cleared the stage, as the security ushered the fans towards the exit and as the stage lights extinguished. I was impressed, and truly overcome with a feeling that this was something special. This was not just another night, nor was this just like every show. It felt like this was just as special to the members of Arctic Monkeys as it was to the fans. So to the members of both bands I tip my hat; well done good sirs.
Here is the set list for the night:
Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
The View From The Afternoon
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
All My Own Stunts
This House Is A Circus
Still Take You Home
Brick By Brick
When The Sun Goes Down
Do Me A Favour
Suck It And See