Arctic Monkeys w/ Pond
Friday May 2
Vector Arena, Auckland
The Arctic Monkeys last played at the 2009 Big Day Out. A mate’s brother laughs remembering it. There, frontman Alex Turner ran out and slurred something. He was drunk. But I don’t know, I wasn’t there and my mate’s brother is notoriously full of shit. The thing is though, lie or not, it’s believable. Alex Turner lyrically, has always had that cheeky swagger. It would only make sense if it could translate live too. Now, with greater degrees of fame and acclaim how would the band perform?
First, the Aussie Flaming Lips (Pond) open with some heartless Tame Impala tunes. Heavy in influence but lacking in the themes that mark Kevin Parker’s music. I can make this comparison; they are in fact some sort of side project. Nevertheless, it was fun and the beautifully small Nick Allbrook (who I met on Quay Street before the show) brings some sass to the stage.
Sass is the theme of the night. And sauciness. And yeah, sex appeal. The show hasn’t even begun yet and I’m surrounded by the cries of young women everywhere. I read ‘marry me Alex’, I hear ‘if he touched my arm I would die’ and I think ‘his hair looks so good’. Turner knows who the fans are and throughout the night he plays and is dedicated for the girls, making personal tribute via the big hits of their career ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and ‘She’s Thunderstorms’. Turner even brings out an acoustic guitar for ‘Cornerstone’. Only he could make Vector swoon over a song about extreme possession.
They lead with ‘One For The Road’ (Oh yeah, I totally forgot. They play music too!) and it sounds great if the singing isn’t a bit off. Four AM songs later and I’m a bit bored honestly, I only like the AM tracks as comedown songs, the ones you play when you go home at 2am – that’s the way I thought they worked. So to hear five of them in a row before any song with a faster pace is dumb. I want context. Fortunately when they do decide to change it up it is the perfect track for doing so. ‘Brianstorm’, the opening track from 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare hits like a punch. The hi-hat rhythmic drive, that pause in the middle.
The energy continues and eventually climaxes at ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ I do consider this one of their best songs and live it sounded intoxicating. The band was on point, each playing with crazy passion. It was also the most engaging, with Vector screaming the words back to the stage. That is the sign of a band reaching their peak, when not an old classic track, but something recent garners such a heavy response.
The band are now icons with an excellent (but sadly short) live show behind them. The bastards even have the cockiness to know it’s true.