Written by Isabelle Rossi de Leon
Boston’s massive Agganis Arena continued to fill up as Deerhunter took the stage. Though seemingly uncomfortable with such a large audience, the critically lauded Atlanta-based five piece played a stellar, though largely overlooked, forty-five minute set under blue and green lights that matched the tone of their moody shoegaze. After a brief wait, the hotly anticipated headliner Arctic Monkeys began their set with no introduction, save for the intense pyrotechnics rising above the stage. Understated yet bold, an enormous “AM” logo adorned the stage’s backdrop, a singular constant amidst the extravagant lights that emblazoned the arena.
Arctic Monkeys opened with “Do I Wanna Know?,” a fan favorite from their latest album, simply titled AM, which dropped last September on Domino Records. Although the energy in the arena was explosive throughout the concert, thanks to the practically flawless audio and visual design, Arctic Monkeys seemed to purposefully maintain a distance from the audience, letting the music speak for itself. Commercially and critically, AM has proven to be a game-changer for the band, propelling them from indie favorites to an essential, formidable part of a more mainstream ‘alternative’ music culture. Like all musicians, they are at least partially defined by their listeners, and this tour allowed them a unique opportunity to give their fans what they want — a redefined image of lead singer Alex Turner and his bandmates as bonafide rock stars. To achieve this, Arctic Monkeys created a purely musical monologue in which Turner did not speak once to the audience, establishing a classically cool sense of detachment. It was the kind of concert at which everyone was there to soak up the atmosphere and live in the moment; applause, though incessant, was irrelevant. Cleverly, the extraordinary pyrotechnics often backlit the band and shone instead on the audience, establishing Arctic Monkeys as a silhouetted beacon, a source of happiness and musical exuberance throughout the evening. Apparently, they chose not to create a dialogue and essentially ignored their audience for the purposes of accentuating their stardom, a trait they believed their fans found valuable.
Although AM hits such as “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and the final encore “R U Mine?” might have received the most ecstatic response from the audience in general, they were not the true climax of the concert. Older favorites such as “Fluorescent Adolescent,” off of 2007’s Favorite Worst Nightmare, and the band’s debut single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” appeared near the end of the show and easily reignited the exhausted audience. The sequencing of these tracks in the setlist was carefully planned, and both have been staples of numerous shows on Arctic Monkey’s current tour. Although the pyrotechnics and banner made it clear that the release of AM was the focus of the event, it’s impossible to deny the appeal of their sassier, more rock-oriented songs from their past releases. I was dazzled by the carefully crafted show and the amazing music, and if I have another opportunity to hear “Crying Lightning” performed live, I’d be ecstatic.
AM is out now on Domino.