In what now has become a bi-annual tradition, The Arctic Monkeys descend on First Avenue and remind the Twin Cities why they are the Colossus of UK Banks. Last night’s show was unique in several ways.
To begin with, First Ave recently installed a high capacity roof air conditioner (announced on their Facebook page to much rejoicing) so the sold out show would be cool and comfortable. This proved to be extremely beneficial as the pit became insane about a third of the way through the Monkey’s set.
This was also the first time I had ever seen the Monkey’s before they released their new album. Suck It and See is not due out until June 6th in the UK (June 7th stateside). I had only heard one new track (“Brick by Brick”) so the rest were going to be new to me. I was pretty amped to hear the new songs for the first time AND live!
They also brought a support band with them that has blown up quickly just like the Monkeys did when they released their first album. The Vaccines took the stage a little after 7pm and played a fantastic 35 minute set which included many tracks from their debut disc, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? Check out their video for the instant and hilarious classic “Post Break Up Sex.”
After The Vaccines left the stage, the pit began to swell with humanity. My buddy Paul and I camped out underneath The Forbidden Staircase which has an excellent view of the stage from the right side of the pit. The Premier League like crowd started to get rowdy and sweaty when the announced set time (now posted on Facebook (mega!) for each show) came and went. I quietly blessed the owners of First Ave as I felt the soft wisps of cool air coming down on my head and shoulders.
Finally, the Monkeys took the stage and, without playing a note, the crowd went berserk. As all of us sang “O-lay, O-lay, O-lay, O-lay” as the lads led off with “Library Pictures” from their new record. A fast tempo surf punk diddy, the song impressed me immediately as being (yet another) departure from their previous work. After that was “Brianstorm” and that was pretty much it for any sort of control in the pit. Bodies flew everywhere as the set progressed through songs from all four of their releases.
Highlights for me were, first and foremost, the new tracks. “Don’t Sit Down Because I’ve Moved Your Chair” and “Brick by Brick” were amazing. “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala,” aside from being a fantastic song title, recalled (of all bands) The Doors and late 60s/early 70s California.
A very large highlight for me was the crowd. As the lads played their older songs, their ridiculously loyal fans sang (no, screamed) along with every word. I, of course, was one of them. In many ways, we were all part of the performance as they did “Still Take You Home,” “Teddy Picker,” “Crying Lightening” and all of the others.
Coming as the second to last song of the night, “The View From The Afternoon,” took on a whole new meaning. The first track on their first album, which sets up the journey that a late adolescent man takes as he imagines what sort of evening he is going to have round the pubs and clubs, seemed last night more like confirmation of a premonition fulfilled completely. In looking at their body of work, on full display at First Avenue, The Arctic Monkeys have managed to evolve past that young man while still maintaining that spark of anticipation of what will always be a fucking riot of a night if they are playing a gig.
For the full set list, click here.
For my photos from the evening, click here.
Here is a live performance of “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” from the Jools Holland Show.