If there is any hope in the current, rather boring, simplistic and redundant world of rock, it is to be found in the Arctic Monkeys.
In fact, out of all of the 15-seconds-of-fame bands that have sprung up in the last five years, the Monkeys may be the only one that lasts.
The band played a sold-out show on Monday night at the Roseland Theater, and to be in the audience was to watch something heaven-like.
“‘Cause all you people are vampires, and all your stories are stale,” sang guitarist/lead singer Alex Turner. “And though you pretend to stand by us, you’re certain we’ll fail.”
Sans guitar, Turner walked to the end of the stage, stared up at the balcony (composed of the older, seated section of the crowd) and blared out the words.
And while the younger kids on the floor bobbed up and down, thrusting into the air like tied-down javelins, Turner assaulted the “fidgeters” who seemed to have bought a ticket only to say that they’d been there.
It was one of many perfect musical statements in the night.
Blasting out of the gate and never once looking back, the Monkeys tore the Roseland up, plain and simple.
Uncompromising, fierce and tight as all get out, it was stripped-down, articulate rock, with just enough of a dance kick to make you want to – dance.
And while it may sound like a stretch, the sound brought to mind something that hasn’t been heard in over 40 years: Bob Dylan and The Band. Filtered through two generations, and a whole lot of information-overload, mind you. But the heart, fire, sentiment and desire to provoke were definitely there.
The key to the Monkeys is that there’s no trick. No pose. No strategy. And as the new tracks on their recent EP (the brilliantly titled) Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys? illustrates, the band is only becoming more challenging and intelligent in its songwriting as it progresses.
Kicking through songs like they were cops knocking down doors, the Monkeys sounded like a pocket full of methamphetamines.
And they knew it.
“We can see that you’re a little winded after the first few numbers, so we’re gonna play a slow one here,” Turner said.
He was lying.
Blistering through another rocker, with enough time changes and rhythmic chord progressions to make you want to tear out your hair, it was all double-time kick and fury.
But it wasn’t punk. And it wasn’t retro. And it wasn’t contrived or plastic.
It was wonderful.
Heavily accented vocals, one twangy Telecaster, one thick Strat, a jumpy bass and drumming that had more in common with jazz than rock equaled everything that all of the radio-friendly unit shifters currently posing as musicians don’t.
Interestingly enough, Turner joked at his band’s prowess.
“We just recorded this next one and it’s gonna be a sure-fire hit – it’s great,” he said with a smile.
But then they played it, and you knew he wasn’t lying.
Kudos must also be thrown at the Monkeys for sticking to their guns. The band has shied away from press and the usual onslaught of media hype and coverage. Constantly on the road, the Monkeys have now released an LP, EP and toured the United States and Europe twice in the time that it takes most bands to take a hiatus.
Best of all, when they weren’t firing away, the band actually seemed happy. Turner was appreciative of the dancers and screamers that comprised the majority of the crowd. And inside-jokes were thrown around between bandmates and stagehands in between songs.
It was all very refreshing. And inspiring.