The line that opens the new Arctic Monkeys album Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino — and probably the most relatable line on the whole LP — is “I just wanted to be one of the Strokes.” And last week, Alex Turner pretty much proved how true it is. When the Arctic Monkeys played New York’s Forest Hills Stadium, the band covered the Strokes’ classic “Is This It.” But it turns out that a very young Alex Turner didn’t just love the Strokes. It looks like he loved that whole early-’00s return-of-the-rock era. And last night in Detroit, Arctic Monkeys covered the Strokes’ greatest contemporaries in their own hometown.
Last night, in the middle of Arctic Monkeys’ set at Detroit’s Masonic Temple Theatre, they busted out a cover they’d never played before. They took on “The Union Forever,” one of the highlights from the White Stripes 2001 breakout album White Blood Cells. Actually, at least part of that song was a sort of double-cover situation. “The Union Forever” is inspired by Orson Welles’ 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane, and it’s mostly made up of quotes from the movie, to the point where Warner Bros. once reportedly considered a lawsuit against the band. And partway through “The Union Forever,” Jack White launches into his version of a song performed at a party in Citizen Kane — which means that, last night, so did Alex Turner.
In any case, we at Stereogum fully salute this whole Arctic Monkeys project. Hopefully, Arctic Monkeys will also cover the Hives when they’re in Sweden, and the Vines when they’re in Australia. Hell, they’re playing Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival this weekend. Maybe they can cover Urge Overkill, whose whole ’90s thing kind of foreshadowed that whole Strokes-era boom. Below, watch a pretty great fan-made video of the Arctic Monkeys’ cover. And while you’re at it, listen to the White Stripes’ original, and watch the party scene from Citizen Kane.
Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is out now on Domino.