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Arctic Monkeys :: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

June 2, 2018
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Arctic Monkey at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery May 5th, 2018

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It has been five years since Sheffield quartet Arctic Monkeys released an album and even longer since the band could really be described as simply a “Sheffield quartet.” With frontman Alex Turner and drummer Matt Helders, now a father, living in Los Angeles and bassist Nick O’Malley and guitarist Jamie Cook living in the U.K., the four have come together again to create their sixth album “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” due May 11. While the band started out as adolescent social commentators, then morphed into desert sludge and later ascended to seductive rock heavyweights, they are back as social commentators again — this time with even grander quotable metaphors and the perspective of a small-town English lad turned wise Hollywood lounge gangster.

Arctic Monkeys seized the stage on the Fairbanks Lawn at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday night opening their set with the brand new song “Four Out of Five” and then “Arabella” from 2013’s “AM.” After the rousing “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” and oldie “The View From the Afternoon,” it took a while for the band to get into another new track. After a few more old songs they performed “She Looks Fun” with help from their supporting act Cameron Avery.

The frenzy at any Arctic Monkeys show is always palpable, but this time, after half-a-decade, the anticipated Hollywood Forever mania was bit more refined by fresh air. Fans seem to have taken a breath over the long wait and rather than lose their minds, they were really soaking it back in again. “Arabella” and “Snap Out of It” rang out as spotlights moved around the stage. Turner’s style seems to have morphed and settled into a slick, sexy, urban casino cowboy with nary a tracksuit or polo shirt in sight. His swagger incited screams of decibels that could have awakened the dead. Helders and O’Malley were as tight as ever while Jamie Cook was focused on his unhinged guitar-work. Along with three other on-stage performers, including Mini Mansions’ Tyler Parkford, percussionist Davey Latter and Tom Rowley, Arctic Monkeys are clearly expanding the barrel.

After performing B-side “You’re So Dark,” Turner joked “It’s quite a trouser battle between the gentlemen on my left and right. Check it out during this next tune” and then went straight into “Snap Out of It.” Turner didn’t say much between songs but he rarely needs to speak to incite a hearty reaction. They closed the main set with “Knee Socks” and “I Bet You Look Good On the Dance Floor” and returned for a three-song encore beginning with new song “One Point Perspective,” which started with the lyrics “Dancing in my underpants/ I’m gonna run for government.” Several other new tracks had already debuted at their two shows in San Diego earlier in the week and video clips spilled online giving us a teaser of what was to come.

So far, while the new material seems to be rife with Turner’s beloved and verbose narration, it’s lighter on the raucous riffage that many came to know and love from “AM.” Turner’s complicated self-reflection and societal disaffection make the newly revealed songs sound a little closer to his work in The Last Shadow Puppets, albeit less flirty. They sound melodically introspective as if Turner was maybe sat at, say, a Steinway Vertegrand piano writing them alone at home. Still, we still get a strong sense that each Monkey had a hand in this banana jar.

They ended the warm evening with “One for the Road” and “RU Mine” with triumph though time will tell how the fans later react to the direction in which the band have chased their ever-developing sound. But if one thing is certain, it is that the thrill of the chase moves in mysterious ways.

Arctic Monkeys were supported by Cameron Avery (Tame Impala, Pond, The Growl), whose baritone and bluesy guitar licks hit in all the right soulful places.

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CAMERON AVERY

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