Going to your first alternative rock concert is a life changing experience you won’t regret. Going to an Arctic Monkeys concert, however, is an experience that cannot be put into words, or even an Instagram story.
On August 5, I went to the Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino Tour at Scotiabank Arena. It was a concert that brought fans back to the band’s early days, while also combining new elements to showcase their new aesthetic.
After four very long years, the beloved English indie rock band made their awaited return to Toronto following the release of their new album.
You’ve probably heard of the British indie rock band through a mutual friend or at least recognize their AM album cover in an old blog post. I fell in love with the Arctic Monkeys as an angsty 16-year-old, after an old boyfriend introduced me to their third album, Suck it and See.
I recall replaying “Piledriver Waltz” for days and obsessing over the band on artsy Tumblr blogs. Three years later, I am still in love with the band and relive those days every time I hit ‘replay.’ Their ‘70s punk rock influences, compelling charm, and poetic lyrics seem to still resonate with indie music fans after all these years.
I stood in the second row of the arena floor in awe of the epitome of cool that was frontman, Alex Turner. At the same time, I tried my very best not to fall into the growing mosh pit as lead guitarist, Jamie Cook, played the opening riff of “505.”
The group had returned from a hiatus in 2014 after their AM tour, which followed the release of their fifth studio album of the same name. During that time, members pursued individual projects.
Alex Turner worked with the group, The Last Shadow Puppets, releasing an album in 2016, and also with the LA indie pop band, Mini Mansions, who opened the Monkeys’ Toronto concert. The group played hits from their 2015 album, The Great Pretenders, opening the concert with “Freakout!” and “Creeps,” a melancholic indie pop tune of a former romance.
The Monkeys took the stage at roughly 9:00 pm, opening with “Four out of Five,” the sixth single in Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Of the songs included in the setlist, only five were taken from the band’s latest album.
While the band tried to change their music style to the likes of artists such as David Bowie and indie folk-rock artist, Father John Misty, it was a risky move. Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino received many polarising reviews from fans, commenting on the band’s experimentation of lounge and psychedelic pop and use of ‘70s style synthesizers rather than the prominent guitar riffs, a staple to the band’s unique sound and image.
Much of the songs in the tour’s setlist were older fan-favourites from albums including AM (2013), Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), Humbug (2009), and Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006).
The hardcore guitar riffs of songs such as “Brianstorm” and “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” combined with the flashing lights and fog made for a great performance reminiscent of the band’s earlier days as an alternative rock band in the mid 2000’s.
Turner sported a new buzzed cut, saying goodbye to his signature coiff. Alternating between lead guitar and keyboard, Turner’s stage presence added to the band’s ‘cool factor’ and edgy aesthetic.
After 10 minutes of the concert’s supposed end, the Monkeys returned to the stage for an encore performance following the audience’s never-ending cheers. The group performed “Star Treatment”, “Snap out of it,” and finished with “R U Mine?”, an alternative rock-pop song of unrequited love and obscurity in a budding relationship.
After a packed house and a ‘lovely’ subway ride home, I’d like to say I learned to look good on the dance floor, without falling into the drunken mess that is the mosh pit. The Arctic Monkeys proved to be a unique experience and the ultracool, indie vibe of their concerts are indescribable in any way.