Arctic Monkeys Bring Slicked-Back Swagger and Intriguing New Songs to Brooklyn: Concert Review
As the Arctic Monkeys waltzed onstage at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre Thursday night, they were met with such rapturous applause and overwhelming screams that when Alex Turner sat at the piano and sang, “Don’t get emotional,” it was as if he was speaking directly to the audience.
While the band opened the show with new single “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” which came out just a few weeks ago, the crowd embraced it like an old classic. As Turner sang the song’s title for the final time, in falsetto, a giant disco ball lowered from the ceiling and lit up the exuberant Kings Theatre.
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To be clear: there’s good reason for the Monkeymania. Thursday’s show marked the band’s first headlining concert in the U.S. since 2018, and even though their seminal album “AM” came out nearly a decade ago (feel old?), the Tumblr-era thirst for Turner is still very much alive. The audience erupted in shouts at the frontman’s every move — cheering when he ditched his guitar for “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?,” when he hoisted the mic stand above his head during “Arabella” and, of course, when he snarled between songs, “How’s everybody doing,” in a British accent thicker than the bass tone on “Crying Lightning.”
“AM” was featured generously on this setlist, with the band playing six of the album’s dozen tracks. And while more of the band’s early stuff could have gone a long way (perhaps “Fake Tales of San Francisco,” “A Certain Romance” or “Fluorescent Adolescent”), the 2013 tracks sound strong as ever. The band is still finding ways to spice up “Do I Wanna Know?,” which has clearly reached the elite tier of rock songs whose riffs alone have become stadium singalongs. “Arabella,” filled with sultry harmonies and a dizzying guitar riff, elicited a visceral excitement from the crowd, with Turner carefully enunciating: “Arabella’s got some interstellar gator-skin boots.” He wants you to hear his every syllable. During “R U Mine?,” Turner played out a long pause, basking in the audience’s anticipation before launching into its explosive final chorus: “In my mind, when she’s not right there beside me / I go crazy!”
“AM” feels like the clear divider between the shaggy-haired Sheffield boys who electrified British festivals of the aughts and the suave, slicked-back greasers who domineered the alternative boom of the 2010s. That record laid the foundation for the more mature sound reflected in the swanky, piano-heavy crooners on “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino” and what we’ve heard so far of “The Car,” out Oct. 21. Along with “Mirrorball,” Turner and company played three songs from the upcoming album: the smoky “Body Paint,” wah-pedaled “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am” and slow burner “Mr. Schwartz.”
“If you’re thinking of me / I’m probably thinking of you,” Turner warbled on “Body Paint,” before floating into a spacey guitar breakdown. Mandated Yondr pouches meant phones and videotaping were not allowed at the show (though it was professionally filmed), so fans will be hard-pressed to find footage of the new songs online. Rest assured, they sound on par with “Tranquility Base” and lead single “Mirrorball,” trading punk energy and catchy hooks for the band’s new retro, almost psychedelic lounge vibe. The new cuts are romantic and mysterious, at times even spooky.
Despite being played at a slightly slower tempo, early catalog favorites “From the Ritz to the Rubble” and “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” still blew the roof off, and “Humbug” fans must have been pleased to hear “Pretty Visitors” and “Potion Approaching.” With an eight-piece band and additional support on guitar, synth and percussion, the earth-shaking “Brianstorm” sent ripples through the Kings Theatre, and songs from “Tranquility Base” sounded even more intoxicating.
Kicking off a three-song encore with “Mr. Schwartz” and “Cornerstone,” Arctic Monkeys closed the show with fan-favorite “505.” The crowd bobbed up and down during its build-up, but when Turner shouted, “I crumble completely when you cry,” the pit truly transformed into a dance floor — a massive mirrorball glistening above.
1. “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball”
2. “One Point Perspective”
3. “Snap Out of It”
4. “Crying Lightning”
5. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”
7. “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino”
8. “The Ultracheese”
9. “Body Paint”
11. “Potion Approaching”
12. “Do I Wanna Know?”
13. “That’s Where You’re Wrong”
14. “Knee Socks”
15. “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am”
16. “Pretty Visitors”
17. “From the Ritz to the Rubble”
18. “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
19. “R U Mine?”
20. “Mr. Schwartz”
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