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Review: Arctic Monkeys at the Murat

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Arctic Monkeys
Oct. 4, Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
Four Stars

The U.K.-based rock band Arctic Monkeys visited the Murat’s Egyptian Room on Monday night, still somewhat fresh on the heels of the release of their fourth full-length album, Suck It And See, earlier this summer. The story of Arctic Monkeys meteoric, internet-fueled rise to stardom is well-known in the music world. They were releasing free music via Myspace and driving the blog world batshit nuts before they had even released an album, and they are, perhaps, the first true internet music success story, as their first full-length, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006), became the fastest-selling debut album in U.K. history.

While it’s fair to say the hype surrounding Arctic Monkeys has died down, it’s unfair to say these guys are on a musical downslope. Suck it and See is smoother and more expansive than their early stuff, with new wave elements and the kind of maturity you might hope for from a band whose first album was composed of straight-up, fast-drumming, buzz-saw guitar tracks about hustling drunken tarts, spending late nights at the pub and running from the cops.

On Monday night, Arctic Monkeys drew upon their first album quite a bit, notably with that effort’s opening track “The View From the Afternoon” and “I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,” both of which offered up the kind of hard-driving beats and thick guitar riffs that they've made their name on.

Visually, the performance was remarkable as well, with lead singer and guitarist Alex Turner appearing almost as a silhouette amidst the lingering stage fog and the swirling and bursting of multi-colored strobe lights. Still, excepting a few of the folks at the front of the stage, the audience didn’t seem to be overly excited by any of the proceedings. A few crowd surfers got up in the air once or twice, a few arms went up, but overall the crowd seemed like it was on Valium, and that tended to take some of the life out of the show. Or maybe the oversized, conference-room feel of the Egyptian Room just makes it a sterile place to watch a show.

A few songs later the band dipped into their sophomore album, My Favourite Worst Nightmare, with the dark and eerie track “This House is a Circus” (“…like a search for murder clues/in dead men’s eyes”). Another song from their first album, “Still Take You Home,” proved to be a crowd-pleaser, inducing a unified clap at Turner’s urging.

The show reached a sort of plateau when the band broke out two tracks from the new album, “Brick by Brick” and “She’s Thunderstorms,” which together offered a nice change of pace. “She’s Thunderstorms” is a smooth, Oasis-like ballad with an easy, drawn-out kind of melody that evokes wistful emotion rather than rage or drunken excess. Continuing to tap their new album, they began to wrap up the show with a rendition of the album’s eponymous track, “Suck it and See,” a mellowed-out, emotional effort that represents their (altogether pleasing) new direction. The band wrapped up with a three-song encore of “Teddy Picker”, “Crying Lightning” and "505" after being urged back on (somewhat) by the crowd.

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