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When the Arctic Monkeys took the stage at the Paradise Rock Club this week, it was hard to tell if Alex Turner or Elvis was fronting the band. Amid flashing strobes, Turner walked to the microphone in a slim, pale green suit jacket with his hair slicked and quaffed to perfection. Sporting his new quiff cut, Turner looked like a Teddy Boy for the new age.
Without saying a word, the strobes cut out, a haunting shade of blue light cut in, and the band kicked into their latest single, “Do I Wanna Know?,” which you can now hear on WERS. The blue light outlined Turners slick hair as he sings, “Do you ever get that fear that you can’t shift/The type that sticks around like something in your teeth?” Except he says “summat” instead of “something”–not the first clue that the Monkeys are British. The song starts with only a pounding bass pedal, but by the end it builds into a powerful wall of sound that pushes Turner as he sings the final chorus.
“Do I Wanna Know?” is just one of the many new songs they performed that evening from their fifth album, AM. Even though the album was released just a week before the show, the crowd already knew all the words to the new songs. AM is another great album from the Arctic Monkeys, and stronger than its predecessor, 2011’s Suck It and See. There’s a heavy R&B influence on the album, evident from the backing vocals on “One For the Road,” as well as an influence from early heavy metal. The guitar and high hat backing the chorus to “Arabella” is pretty much taken completely from Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” and it’s awesome. Sub in Ozzy singing “Oh, Lord, yeah!” for Turner shouting “Arabella” and you’ll have a pretty dope remix. The album also takes from rap & hip-hop with its use of heavy drums and pounding bass. The overlying lyrical theme of AM can be summed up as pretty much “Hey, I really love you; can you please let me know if you feel the same way, or…”
The band was still able to sneak in a few of their earlier songs through the set. The second song they performed that night was Favourite Worst Nightmare’s “Brianstorm,” which sent the crowd into frenzy with red light flashing on and off Matt Helder’s drum kit as he beat them to butter. Following the semi-surf rock guitar filled song, Turner said “Don’t you think it’s time to… Get on your dancing shoes!” As you may have guessed, they then played “Dancing Shoes,” off their debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Then people danced! Especially when Turner sang, “Get on your dancing shoes, you sexy little swine.” A crowd of people have never reacted as positively to being called sexy pigs as in that moment.
“Teddy Picker” was a crowd favorite that had the crowd matching Turner word for word during the rap-sung bridge of the song. “Crying Lighting,” from their third album, Humbug, immediately followed, and there was nowhere to hide from the thumping bass. They went back to the new album with “Snap Out of It” before Helder led the band in Suck It and See’s “Brick By Brick.” Turner had time to channel Elvis during this song as Helder handled much of the singing, allowing Turner to focus on his hips and thrusts. At one point, Turner whipped out a comb and pulled it through his hair to get it back in place. All the girls immediately swooned. And myself.
The Monkeys immediately took us to a rock show in Frankenstein’s lab as soon as the organ started “Pretty Visitors.” Turner led us like a puppeteer as he waved his hand back and forth while we all sang “All the pretty visitors came and raised their hands and cast the shadow of a snake pit on the wall.” While the crowd was still possessed and ready to smash against each other, the band went into “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor.” We looked damn good. There are very few things in the world better than seeing this band play this song. Following the lightning energy of “Dancefloor,” the band gave us a break as they played the very clever “Cornerstone,” and the ironically titled ballad “Suck It and See.”
Turner spoke highly of Boston and the crowd through the night, but still needed us to answer one question for us. He said, “I might go as far as to say I’m yours, but the question is…are you mine, Boston?!” “R U Mine?,” from the new album, brought the crowd back to its feet before the band left for the encore break. Turner & co. returned to the stage to play “One For the Road.” They finished the night with Favourite Worst Nightmare’s “Fluorescent Adolescent” and “505.” Everyone hoped they would close with “505,” and they did. Turner left the stage with a cocky smile and kiss to the crowd, and he totally deserved to.