Arctic Monkeys: Live last night

arctic monkeysArctic Monkeys let their songs do the talking at 9:30 club on Tuesday.

Live Last Night

By Patrick Foster

Three albums do not a career make, but it does seem safe to say that the Arctic Monkeys have survived being one of the decade's most hyped British sensations. And though their third record, "Humbug," is the Sheffield quartet's least exciting, they proved Tuesday night its best songs work well on stage, delivering an impressively workmanlike performance at a very sold out 9:30 club.

(Less talk, more rock, after the jump.)

From a band whose members are still in their 20s and whose speedy, guitar-driven songs often celebrate the whirl of nightlife, the professionalism underlying the 75-minute set was surprising. Frontman Alex Turner offered little more than "yaallrighthenDC?" in the way of banter and the foursome (augmented by a keyboardist) worked through nearly 20 songs with little wasted motion. The appeal was in the razor-sharp interplay of guitars and the beefy drum patterns of Matt Helders. Through the flash of strobes and spotlights, Turner was an unwavering focal point, dishing his Clockwork Orange-vocals from beneath a mop of face-obscuring hair.

The majority of songs came from the sedate "Humbug," but it was the fast numbers -- regardless of origin -- that set sparks flying: The new album's "Potion Approaching" and "Crying Lightning" stood tall next to older slashers like "Brianstorm," "View From the Afternoon," "Fluorescent Adolescent" and of course, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor."

An unexpected highlight was a roiling version of Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand," which balanced the Monkey's post-punk drive, keen sense of Britpop dynamics and Turner's thick accent with remarkable knack for mature restraint. And three years gone from the hysteria surrounding their debut album, who would've thought the Arctic Monkeys would qualify as grown up?

By David Malitz |  December 9, 2009; 2:13 PM ET Live Last Night
Previous: Jawbox reunites on "Jimmy Fallon" | Next: Should more D.C. bands reunite on talk shows?


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I was at the show last night and thought something was lacking in the performance. Don't get me wrong, AM are crazy talented and their songs have held up well, but the band seemed jaded and didn't work to connect to the audience.

The crowd was great and gave the band lots of opportunity to feed off the energy but the manner and style of the performance was flat. Maybe it was the hair (three shags out front is too many), the slurred delivery, or the too heavy songs from "Humbug" but something was amiss.

The exception was Matt on drums, who was fierce. Watching him is worth attending the show alone.

For any other band, this would have been an amazing show. But the promise and the energy of the first two albums were nowhere in evidence last night.

Posted by: jsmdlawyer | December 9, 2009 5:23 PM

How was the opening band, Screaming Females? They have been the subject of at least some mini-hype and were pretty good when I saw them last spring at A.U.

Posted by: MyPostID27 | December 10, 2009 9:34 AM

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