Arctic Monkeys @ Madison Square Garden (February 8, 2014)

By Will Oliver, February 9th 2014 — with 4 comments Concert Photos Concert Reviews

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Last night was a big night for all Arctic Monkeys fans alike. I was sure that seeing my favorite band headline their biggest show in the states at Madison Square Garden was going to be a seminal moment for all. It should have been their tour de force, their big moment where they finally captivate the audiences that they have deserved here for so long. This arrival was long overdue for sure. With that said, I expected to leave late Saturday night from one of the best gigs of my life, possibly one of the most memorable Arctic Monkeys shows in the United States, period. Maybe that was my fault, because if I’m being 100% real and honest, the show was pretty standard and by the numbers for them, which left me quite perplexed.

We’ll get back to that. To start, credit to Deerhunter for getting things started. Bradford Cox had the flu, but still powered through like a trooper and delivered a great performance. With his limited vocal ability, they (for the most part) stuck to their quicker, punkier tracks, which was a good choice considering most of the crowd didn’t seem to have a clue who they were (ugh). It was a very short set, but they powered through and made every moment stick.

With Arctic Monkeys due to take the stage, anticipation was running wild throughout the arena. Everyone in the crowd was wondering what special treats would be instore for us.They had the grandest stage of them all in the palm of their hands. All they had to do was come on stage and do their thing.

Don’t get me wrong, Arctic Monkeys delivered a strong performance last night. “Do I Wanna Know?” is a monstrous opening track that got everyone in the arena amped up. The rapid-fire drumming of Matt Helders followed, which meant the chaos of “Brianstorm” was on the way. I geared up and was ready to fight for my position for survival in the pit, but no one moved. No one chanted along, everyone just stood there, watching the show through their cell phones. I tried not to let it bother me, but I couldn’t help but notice that half of the audience in the coveted GA pit (where a ticket was worth nearly $400 on stubhub) didn’t even bother singing along.

It hit me that half of the crowd didn’t care to make an effort to get into anything that wasn’t off of their latest album, AM. One of the biggest differences about tonight was the demographic of the crowd. I’ve seen the band many times now, and this was the first time where the crowd was made up of mostly teenaged girls. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting new fans, but damn, this threw me off and was a huge difference maker for the show’s atmosphere. The bands ever growing popularity is both well earned and deserved, but when it seems that people are only there just to post to social media that they were there, it becomes a real life Favourite Worst Nightmare.

Alex Turner 2.0 was full of his pelvic thrusts, sex-minded hip moments, and hair-combing techniques. He’s made the transition to a fully fledged frontman, putting full meaning into the word performer. Jamie Cook showcased long messy hair, and Nick is sporting a fully gruffy beard. Helders for the most part is still Helders, the backbone of the band. They were backed by a giant AM logo that would light up and flow according to whatever track was playing. The AM tracks were delivered with high octane levels of intensity, delivered in all their glory. “Arabella” (where they cheekily worked in Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs), “One For The Road” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” hit hard, and it was pleasant to hear “Fireside” “Knee Socks” and “I Wanna Be Yours.”

The older stuff was limited to a few tracks off each album with a few standards (“I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” “Cornerstone”, “Fluorescent Adolescent”) as well as a few choice cuts (“Dancing Shoes”, “Old Yellow Bricks”). “505” ended the regular set with a guest appearance from Miles Kane, and he came back to join them on a cover of The Beatles “All My Loving,” which was nice.

Did the boys give us a good performance? Yes. Did I have fun? Yes. Did I leave in awe? No. Maybe my set of expectations were raised too high, but I couldn’t help but acknowledge a feeling of slight disappointment. I hoped (not expected – there’s a difference) a few big inclusions such as a “Mardy Bum” or “A Certain Romance.” This was Arctic Monkeys biggest U.S. stage, and those sort of tracks are clear favorites of fans, something that would have allowed them to truly capture the moment and send the fans home glowing with glee. It would have given the show a feeling of glory that the gig was one for the ages. I hate to say it, but this was a pretty standard show, aside from a Beatles cover, which they actually did the night before.

I’m certain fellow diehard fans that read this will scoff at this notion, ready to sort out a witch hunt for my head. They’ll tell me that the band don’t owe me anything, and to just be grateful that I was there. That’s fine and you know what, you’re right. But I know the band had something more in the tank that they didn’t share with us, which is slightly disappointing. I’m just telling you how I feel, because it feels like the truth.

There’s a quote from the great film Almost Famous which goes “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. Y’know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” That’s as good as I can describe my fandom with Arctic Monkeys. They’re my favorite band, which is why I’m being tough on them. If they have one weakness about them, it’s their setlist selections.

It was a good performance from a great band, that should have been the stuff of legend.

Check out some photos from the show as well as both of their setlists:

Arctic Monkeys:

1. Do I Wanna Know?
2. Brianstorm
3. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
4. Snap Out of It
5. Crying Lightning
6. Old Yellow Bricks
7. Fireside
8. Knee Socks
9. Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
10. Arabella
11. Dancing Shoes
12, Pretty Visitors
13. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
14. Cornerstone
15. I Wanna Be Yours
16. Fluorescent Adolescent
17. 505 (with Miles Kane)

Encore:
18. All My Loving (The Beatles cover) (with Miles Kane)
19. One For The Road
20. R U Mine?

Arctic Monkeys:

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Deerhunter:

Deerhunter:

1. Earthquake
2. Neon Junkyard
3. Don’t Cry
4. Revival
5. Desire Lines
6. Rainwater Cassette Exchange
7. Sleepwalking
8. Back to the Middle
9. Monomania

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  • Lois

    I wish they’d bring back Mardy Bum and A Certain Romance more too. Luckily we got Mardy Bum when I saw them here in the UK. I’m sorry the crowd wasn’t more enthusiastic too, hate it when that happens! 🙂

  • SeasTooFarToReach

    I enjoyed the show a lot, more than I thought I would because I’m not a fan of arenas, to be honest. I do understand your feeling of disappointment that there wasn’t anything “special” about the show. I wasn’t really expecting much because I know they rarely deviate from their usual setlist, but I still had a speck of hope they’d surprised me because it was Madison Square Garden, the so-called most famous arena in the world!

    As for the crowd, you should learn to tune them out. I used to get hung up on people acting slightly indifferent to most songs or spending too much time on their phones but, you know what, screw them! I’m there and I’m singing along and jumping around and enjoying every moment.

    I wasn’t in the GA, I was to the right side of the stage, so people have their designated areas to dance accordingly. I’m sad the setlist didn’t include When The Sun Goes Down or A Certain Romance. However, they did play them the last time I saw them so I have that memory to treasure.

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