by Justin Trudell
Arctic Monkeys have come a long way since their first Detroit show at Pontiac’s Clutch Cargo in 2007 (R.I.P. pour out a 40 for Clutch Cargo). While a decade ago the Sheffield, England four-piece struggled to get even 500 people into the venue, on Wednesday night in Detroit they easily sold out the 5,000 seat Masonic Temple. And while they’ve definitely grown in popularity, their shows haven’t lost their intimacy.
Alex Turner seems to have fully become the fictional persona he invented with the release of Arctic Monkeys sixth studio album from earlier this year, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. The concept album was about a hotel on the moon that’s intended to be a retirement community for aging rock stars, and Turner runs the joint. It’s a bizarre, but interesting concept. I’m not the biggest fan of the new album, but I did find having the tracks stand on their own within a concert setlist made them stronger.
The new album seems to confirm Turner’s deep desire to be a 1970s lounge singer, rather than continuing as a rock n roll front man, ripping out guitar solos between frantic lines about women who broke his heart. He pulls off the 70s lounge singer quite well. Turner crooned and strutted about the stage substantially more expressive than as the punk rock kid back in 2007. He had a look that seemed to be inspired by Ace Rothstein. It’s an evolution and it suits him well.
Speaking of suits, can we take a minute to appreciate how well Arctic Monkeys have been dressing since just after the Humbug days? Everything from the retro hairstyles to the vintage shirts, to the dapper suits, all the way to the mustard and brown 70s inspired suit Turner was wearing for his Detroit performance has just been incredible. What’s most impressive has been that even as their fashion game has stepped up to iconic levels, they’ve never had an issue of “style over substance.” All their songs still provide the quality all their fans have come to expect. Well done, boys.
The setlist for the evening was an incredible triumph for an Arctic Monkeys fan of any era, if I’m honest. It featured a large portion of tracks from 2013’s AM (perhaps the most successful album in the states) and their most recent release, Tranquility Base. They’ve made sure to include classic tracks with a more up tempo, pulse-pounding rhythm, like “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” and “The View From The Afternoon.” Likely to even out the rather subdued melodies featured on the two most recent albums, like “Star Treatment” and “Do I Wanna Know?” Despite playing 21 songs, as a longtime fan, I still felt like they could’ve played at least 10 more tracks that I desperately wanted to hear. However, as a fan of Arctic Monkeys since their first concert in Detroit, this show at the Masonic Temple was my absolute favorite.
During their signature closing song “R U Mine?”, the lights illuminated crowd, and I took a moment to look around. I noticed all the other people here to see the band I’ve been in love with for over a decade, and I couldn’t stop smiling. Arctic Monkeys have come a long way since playing for 200 people in 2007. I hate, HATE, when music fans get snobby about a band they’ve known about “before they we’re cool.” Music shouldn’t be this exclusive club where only certain people get it, and if it spreads too far then it loses value. Fuck that.
I’ve always wanted to share the music I love with others, and have them share it with me. Because ultimately, we’re trying to share our emotions. Arctic Monkeys have always been the ultimate expression of what I’ve felt like through the years. I couldn’t have been happier seeing so many others sharing the moment, feeling just as much joy as I was seeing the greatest band in the world put on an unforgettable performance.
Setlist (via Setlist.fm)
Four Out of Five
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
The Union Forever (White Stripes Cover)
The View From the Afternoon
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Do I Wanna Know?
One Point Perspective
Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
One for the Road
Snap Out of It
R U Mine?