You won’t find a superlative here. No hint of condescension either. Half of you want to see this band panned, the other to hear why Arctic Monkeys are the biggest things in Britain since Oasis. Or The Beatles. Or Jesus. And I’d be glad to play on your expectations, but my edict is utterly anti-climactic: Arctic Monkeys are a good band that put on a fun show at Webster Hall Saturday night. Nothing more. Nothing less. Like the band’s first-ever US gig Scott caught at Mercury Lounge in November.
Though the group’s super-hype status is a simple consequence of the Internet’s hall of mirrors, there’s reason for the clamor. Alex Turner, the brashly alluring lead Monkey, wields his snarky charm in incisive stares from stage, stoically hinting at vulnerability beyond his perfunctory detachment. There’s that voice, affected with cocky Sheffield sneer, and there are his lyrics, speaking to suburban British youth in a way Yanks will never fully grasp. And though he has penned a few crowd-moving gems, the only extraordinary thing about the band is the manner in which they’ve captured the Anglo-adolescent imagination.
Saturday night’s performance was enjoyable and spirited, then. Despite a demonstrative audience and a strong presence of chanting ex-pats, the crowd was tame in light of the riotous enthusiasm of last year’s Bowery gig. With my focus on stage, I saw a poised band move through a brisk set of its spiky garage rock. While “Mardy Bum” had us singing and “Dancing Shoes” had us stomping, the lulls in the Monkeys’ set were evident this time around. I joined the fray for “Fake Tales of San Francisco,” I joined the chants for “Love Machine,” but I never chimed into the unrequited pleas for an encore.
Walking out of Webster, 11th Street rife with opinions and interjections, I offered a thought on the band’s circumstantial stateside success: the UK kids have spoken, so we’re all listening. USA Today claims a new UK rock invasion is upon us (“Brits keep strumming … Yanks keep succumbing”). Though nothing epic, Saturday night’s blokes brought enough juice to justify the interest. Expectations are a bitch. Arctic Monkeys are holding their own.
Hit Village Indian for a few more of my pics.