Sunday, June 25, 2006They say that there ain't no romance around here...
I'm supposed to be writing my dissertation, but last night's Arctic Monkeys gig was too amazing to write about later. The whole evening had an air of utter excitement, from the late doors and the amassed crowds waiting outside, to the deafeningly enthusiastic sing-along. It confirmd any doubts that anyone might have had that this band are undeserving of their position as probably the most exciting British band of the last 10 years. I saw them for the first time over a year ago, the day before they would release their first single which sold out that morning. They had played Edinburgh's Subway club, which is pretty much a barn with a soundsystem. No lights, no barrier. It was amazing - the crowd was full of fresh faced kids who sung along passionately to every song, spitting the words right back at a then much slighter Alex Turner. The not-even-sold-out venue's acoustics were poor, but the poetic and melodic strengths of their songs shone through and their demos became the soundtrack to my summer.
A year later and the band have set the world on fire, having maintained an amazing degree of integrity. They are never papped, they only do a sensible amount of interviews, they don't play too much, and don't release singles every six weeks, they know the dangers of over-exposure and they try to keep it to a minimum. When they took to the stage of Berlin's 3500 capacity Columbiahalle, it was the same good humoured, Northern banter that had charmed me so much last year. Particularly smile-raising was that the German crowd are now emulating the Yorkshire accent, just as they were at Maximo Park with the Geordie accent earlier in the week. On a side-point, does the whole New Yorkshire "scene" mean that Germans will finally get rid of the German accent when speaking English (this isn't a criticism, I'm not fooling anyone with my German accent!) and start ranting about "fookin' this" and "fookin' that". It'd be pretty cool.
Banter or not, the songs all stand up on their own. Every song sounds like a single, partially becaue you've listened to the album so much, mostly because they all could be. They all have the crowd singing-along like it's the song they've been waiting for all night...but, y'know, 13 times. An unrecorded new song, Leaving Before The Lights Come On sounds like a real step forward for the band. It's more power-pop than before, with some bits that sound so perfect, they could be Blondie. No joke. You can download it from fansite Mardy Bum's awesome live bootleg page. The Arctic Monkeys rule the school because they romanticise being young. If you're young it gives a small validation that it's ok being confused and complicated and wanting things and just not knowing, it speaks to you like many bands can't. And if you're old, then you were young once and t'Monkeys capture that perfectly.