Arctic Monkeys / LC Pavilion / Columbus, Ohio / February 11, 2014
By Christian Power, Contributor
A sold-out crowd welcomed Britain's premier rock band,Arctic Monkeys, to the LC Pavilion in Columbus on Tuesday night. It was a very appropriate day for the polar primates to visit, as temperatures outside dipped well below 20 degrees.
That frigid air didn't deter hundreds of fans from lining up outside for hours to ensure a good viewing position at the intimate venue. And if you ask most of those who braved the conditions, they'd agree it was well worth the sacrifice. As the doors opened at 7 p.m., prohibited Buckeye and Blue Jacket adorned scarves and blankets were quickly retired and left in the street while their users rushed directly to the barrier.
Chicago-based indie band The Orwells served as the opening act for the final time of the tour. Most of the band members graduated high school just last year, but they were far from inexperienced with regard to playing on stage. Lead singer Mario Cuomo certainly made his presence known throughout the 12-song performance. The obnoxious frontman made suggestive gestures with the microphone about every other verse (before ultimately breaking it while walking off stage). He proceeded to accept a beer from the audience--which he returned in the form of a saliva-enriched mist upon the first few rows.
The act itself was impressive. A decent amount of the crowd was responsive, especially to the hit single "Mallrats (La La La)" which the band snuck into the middle of their set. They began right on time with "Other Voices," the title track from their 2013 EP. Two songs prior to leaving the stage, Cuomo exclaimed, "The British are coming!" And come they did.
Cue black and white strobes with a faint playing of the rhythm guitar from "Do I Wanna Know?" Anticipation of the crowd, most with camcorders in hand, built exponentially. Suddenly the gentlemen, 4/5 of whom were dressed in the now-usual dapper attire (drummer Matt Helders doesn't play that game), took the stage. Without hesitation, the simple yet oh-so-exciting drum introduction to "Do I Wanna Know?" began and the crowd went wild.
And the crowd stayed wild for the entire performance. "Do I Wanna Know?" was just one of nine songs the band played from their fifth and latest album AM (which peaked at number 6 in the U.S.) Curiously enough, the album that saw the most love after that was 2007's sophomore record, Favourite Worst Nightmare. That's not something that was necessarily to be expected considering the extreme popularity of their debut album and the currency of Suck It and See.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Turner gave an excellent performance. Because of the synthesizer-heavy newer tracks, touring keyboardist and backup vocalist Thomas Rowley joined the band on stage and seemed to fit in perfectly.
Crowd response was noticeably higher on a handful of songs. Turner set the tone for "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" by exclaiming, as usual, "Ladies!" The song resulted in a poorly executed and unsynchronized attempt at moshing (which just turned into mass abuse.)
"Dancing Shoes" drew a similar reaction and "Old Yellow Bricks" surprisingly sent at least 4 people to the barrier via the popular form of transportation known as crowd surfing. Finally, "Arabella" was popular partly because the guitar-less Alex Turner used his freedom to interact closely with the crowd while singing. The guitar solo was preceded by a snippet from Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," which of course only energized the audience even more.
Other highlights included an additional guitar part tacked onto the end of "I Wanna Be Yours." The punk-poetry inspired slow number featured some well-orchestrated flair from Jamie Cook. They closed the first part of their set with "505," which was beyond phenomenal. The fully engaged crowd sang every lyric with at least as much passion as Turner.
After the band left the stage, several audience members began chanting "Who the fuck are Arctic Monkeys?" The shouting was in reference to their outstanding 2006 EP of the same title. Arctic Monkeys answered that question upon their return to the stage about five minutes later.
No performance is perfect, and Tuesday night was no exception. Arctic Monkeys' encore rendition of "One for the Road" definitely felt a little empty. The backing lyrics were altered slightly and ultimately had an adverse effect on the song. Bassist Nick O'Malley's backing vocals on "Knee Socks" were difficult if not impossible to hear. Finally, extended intros to some of the songs almost gave the feeling that they were taking the place of what could have been an additional song.
Despite that, the show was still fantastic. The band didn't miss a beat despite their exhaustive touring schedule. The 2,200-member crowd could not have been more involved. Following closing song "R U Mine?" Alex Turner said, "We'll see you another time." He's definitely right about that.