Arctic Monkeys At The Kool Haus
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By Nick Krewen
"Always leave 'em wanting more" is a well-known showbiz credo, and one it seemed that Sheffield, England, indie rockers Arctic Monkeys took to heart onstage at the Kool Haus in Toronto on Sept. 15.
Buoyed by the recent news that their just-released fifth studio album, AM, is a finalist for the UK's prestigious Mercury Prize (their third nomination overall and an honor they won with 2006's GRAMMY-nominated Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not), the Arctic Monkeys — bolstered by the addition of keyboardist/guitarist Tom Rowley — had barely cracked the hour mark of their 16-song performance when their main set ended.
The 2,500 fans who filled the venue to capacity continued to go ape for the Monkeys, beginning a chant of the band's name until, after a somewhat lengthy wait, vocalist/guitarist Alex Turner and his crew returned for a three-song encore before calling it a night.
You could easily understand the crowd's enthusiasm: what they lack in flash, the Monkeys make up for in panache. Spouting a sound that molds elements of rock and blues with psychedelic flourishes and a cheeky sense of humor, the band essentially stuck to the original studio arrangements and remained tight and disciplined.
Turner, when not strapped to a guitar, proved to be a charismatic host, and the audience followed his every gesture, waving their arms in unison for songs such as "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" or singing along at the top of their lungs for "Fluorescent Adolescent," crowd surfing and generally celebrating the presence of their favorite band.
Drummer Matt Helders, a whirling dervish of percussive activity with his sticks flying everywhere, was the most visually stimulating member of the group, who seem to be heating up for a superstar breakthrough, if concertgoers' reaction can be served as any type of measuring stick.
For when the GRAMMY nominees finished the main set with the AM song "R U Mine?," it seemed to be a rhetorical question: the response to the Arctic Monkeys was anything but cool or frigid.
To catch Arctic Monkeys in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"Do I Wanna Know?"
"Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair"
"Snap Out Of It"
"Brick By Brick"
"Old Yellow Bricks"
"Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?"
"I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor"
"Suck It And See"
"R U Mine?"
"One For The Road"
(Nick Krewen is the Toronto-based co-author of Music From Far And Wide: Celebrating Forty Years Of The JUNO Awards, a contributor to The Routledge Film Music Sourcebook and has written forThe Toronto Star, TV Guide, Billboard, and Country Music. He was a consultant for the National Film Board's music industry documentary Dream Machine.)