Arctic Monkeys leave crowd swooning


Arctic Monkeys lead singer drops to his knees during a guitar break

Urmilla Kuttikad

Arctic Monkeys lead singer Alex Turner while playing one of their hit songs, "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High" off their new album, "AM" Photo by Piper Stretz
Arctic Monkeys lead singer Alex Turner while playing one of their hit songs, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” off their new album, “AM”
Photo by Piper Stretz

The Arctic Monkeys make me weak in the knees. Alex Turner, the undeniably attractive lead singer of the Arctic Monkeys, makes me weak in the knees. Turner’s smooth, distinctive, northern-British-tinged voice makes me weak in the knees.

So you could say I was excited for the Dec. 12 concert. A few of my friends and I raced out to the Blue Note during lunch on a happy October Friday and bought tickets within 20 minutes of them going on sale. Buying the tickets over two months in advance felt silly, but as the show sold out within days, it proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.
When we bought the tickets, the concert seemed too far away, too improbably good to be true, but somehow, the days pulled themselves forward, seeming to trip over themselves in exponential speed. Before I had time to understand how I’d found myself in December, the 12th arrived.
Perhaps a little too heedless of the bad weather, my friends and I raced out of the school parking lot when the bell rang, anxious to get to the Blue Note. A source had told us that at 3 p.m., there were already about 10 people lined up in the cold, despite doors not opening until 7:30. When we got there, though, we were relieved to see the line hadn’t grown much more — just the same handful of diehard fans, equipped with blankets and pizza delivered-on-foot to the alley.
And so we stood, feet slowly solidifying into painful blocks of ice, passing the time until doors opened. Fast-forward through several hours, doors opening, another hour-long wait, an hour of a pretty good opening band who forgot to tell us their names (later research found them to be called Fly Golden Eagle), another half-hour wait, and it was 10 p.m.
Arctic Monkeys time.
When I say the excitement was palpable, I’m not exaggerating. As the lights dimmed and, after a tense few seconds, silhouettes climbed up the steps behind the stage and walked slowly toward us, a roar ballooned from the crowd and swept forward, pushing everyone toward the stage as it did.
Smashed against each other, we were undeniably ecstatic. The lights flared and, without a word, the Arctic Monkeys began to pound out the familiar drum beats of “Do I Wanna Know?”, arguably one of the biggest hits off their new album, “AM.” Song after glorious song, the Arctic Monkeys executed their swaggering rock flawlessly. Whether it was an older, infamous song like “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” or a new, already beloved one like “Arabella,” the Arctic Monkeys were perfect. Hitting every note perfectly, there was something about their unique brand of charm that held the crowd captive and, at the same time, set us in a frenzy.
But if we’re being honest, Turner brought the real magic. Not a single person could tear their eyes off of him the entire hour-and-a-half the Monkeys were on stage. Even though his quiet, British-clad accent only emerged a few times that night, usually to express his gratitude or tell us the name of a song, Turner was captivating without really having to say anything. Everything about him oozed appeal. I couldn’t place what it was about him if you asked — his quiet, steady demeanor or the sultry voice or the slicked-back hair that slowly escaped the gel as the night wore on. All I know is that when he inexplicably struck small, odd dance poses while crooning at us — a cock of the hip or a swing of the hands or a dramatic flair of the head, it was a little too much for me to handle. The only complaint I could possibly think of for the entire concert is that I wish the music had been a little quieter so that we could hear Turner’s voice better.
When the Monkeys left — Turner murmuring at us that we’d been wonderful but it was time for them to sing one more song and leave us, the disappointment was painful. It felt too soon, the timing didn’t feel right. As they set down their instruments and walked back down the steps behind the stage, the crowd erupted. For five minutes straight, we chanted and stomped and clapped, as much noise as we could possibly make. Unrelenting, we alternatingly screamed “One more song!” or “Monkeys!” or “Come back please!” I personally had lost all hope. This was one of the biggest bands in Britain — they weren’t going to come back for the whims of some fans in a small town in Missouri.
Still chanting but ready to take my misery and go home, I stood numb in disbelief as a tech guy shone his flashlight down the steps and, somehow, the Arctic Monkeys reemerged. I’m trying to remember a moment in my recent life where I’ve been as happy as the moment when Alex Turner’s distinctive hair came back up the steps, but it’s proving difficult.
After they came back, they sang us three more songs. This time, it felt right. Before the third one, Turner told us it was really time for them to leave us, but before they did, he had one more question for Columbia. We waited, breathless, for his query. When they launched into “R U Mine?”, one of my favorites off their new album, the crowd exploded.
When the final, ringing notes of “R U Mine?” had faded, the band raised their hands in farewell towards us and walked off the stage for the final time. Turner walked off the slowest, turning towards us with arms raised to embrace our cheering. Slowly, cheekily, he walked down the steps, leaving his hand raised long after his head had disappeared so that we spent a solid 30 seconds screaming at his lingering hand. Finally, his hand disappeared as well, and it was over.
This concert was easily one of the most aggressive concerts I’ve been to. The crowd was menacing, slamming back and forth; 70 percent of the time, it was impossible to move and I would have easily fallen over if I hadn’t been so tightly surrounded by people on all sides. I got kicked in the head a couple times by rookie crowd-surfers, elbowed everywhere from my cheek to my stomach and my head only surfaced from the not-so-pleasant smell a couple of times that night. Every inch of my body ached and I think I caught a cold somewhere in the middle of the concert. But, three days later and still reveling in an Arctic Monkeys haze, I think the pain has never been more worth it.
By Urmila Kutikkad