Are The Arctic Monkeys Dialling It In?
REMEMBER when the Arctic Monkeys first burst onto the scene? Ordinary kids, making sharp, loud rock ‘n’ roll coupled with slanted looks at society and crapfun nights out? Even if they weren’t your bag, they sure were fun to have around. They made gloriously dumb music and matched it with an intelligence that their peers lacked.
And then, slowly, they turned into Every Other Rock Stars, going to the gym and wearing expensive clothes and making dadrock.
Some will argue that they grew up, which is fine as their fans were growing up too. However, who says that a) You have to grow up at all in music? b) Growing up means slowing down?
Recently, The Orwells were AM’s support act for their US tour of jumbodomes. Biting the hand that fed ’em, they said that the Arctic Monkeys performances were “synchronised” to within an inch of its life, even down to the patter that lay between the songs. For all the world, it looked like Arctic Monkeys had gone from champion amateurs to waddling rock bores.
And their latest LP, ‘AM’, certainly pointed to that. Sure, it was well received by the rock press and broadsheets, but everyone else stopped willing them on because they sounded like Eric Clapton during the coke years.
The Orwells frontman, Mario Cuomo, apologised for the comments during a gig in London. Like a massive wuss.
However, AM frontman man and Just Another Bloke With A Quiff Alex Turner wasn’t having it… but didn’t exactly deny it either. He said: “They should have been out trying to get laid instead of watching us every night. I don’t think that’s fair [to call it synchronised]. There comes a time on a tour when something works and you tend to leave it alone. We have been changing it around a little bit.”
He added: “You can’t mess around with it too much. It’s almost like the show isn’t designed to be watched by the same person every night. Nowadays people share the setlists, but I’m by no means fucking phoning it in. It’s not like we have [pre-recorded] tracks, we’re up there fucking doing it.”
It has got to the point where rock bands want a pat on the back for simply playing live. Which is to say, too many rock groups think they’re worthy of praise for simply turning up and doing a consistent job.
If you look at pop bands, rappers and even the elder statesmen of soul and rock (Prince and Macca, for example), they’re getting their bands to learn around 2 or 3 setlists worth of songs, so they can, around the hits, chop and change their setlists. That doesn’t merely keep the fans on their toes, but it makes the band excited too.
Music is always at its most fun when there’s an element of jeopardy hanging over it and, it certainly looks like the Arctic Monkeys are in a rut. Of all the big rock bands doing the rounds at the minute, they’re the most likely to kick their way out of it… however, they better hurry up because they’re going to end up too comfortable and surrounded by sycophants who won’t give them a kick in the pants when it is needed.