ARC­TIC MON­KEYS

Amid the graves of the rich and fa­mous, AM stage a glo­ri­ous res­ur­rec­tion.

Q (UK) - - Contents - “There’s a de­sire to change how we present ev­ery­thing.” Alex Turner

Meet us at the ceme­tery gates, as Alex Turner and friends raise the dead with a storm­ing Hol­ly­wood gig.

Arc­tic Mon­keys Hol­ly­wood For­ever Ceme­tery, los An­ge­les Satur­day, 5 May, 2018

Even Alex Turner can­not es­cape the hum­drum of a work­ing Mon­day morn­ing. At 10am in his lo­cal Hol­ly­wood diner, he or­ders a black cof­fee en route to the first day of the fifth week of re­hearsals. Arc­tic Mon­keys’ live come­back is 10 days away, ahead of the re­lease of their sixth LP, Tran­quil­ity Base Ho­tel & Casino. Gui­tarist Jamie Cook waits by the bar as Turner slides into a booth. “I don’t think that’s some­thing I’ve been able to say be­fore: fifth week of re­hearsals,” he pon­ders. “I don’t ever re­mem­ber re­hears­ing this much in the past.” Arc­tic Mon­keys haven’t played a show since Rio de Janeiro in Novem­ber 2014. “Which is a while!” laughs Turner. “We wanted to be sure we gave ourselves enough time to quite lit­er­ally get the act to­gether. There’s a de­sire to change how we present ev­ery­thing.” Last time around, the quar­tet’s fifth al­bum, AM, el­e­vated them from “best band in Bri­tain” into one with their sights set on world dom­i­na­tion. Its fus­ing of sta­dium rock and R&B grooves find­ing a home in Top 10s the planet over. A hia­tus fol­lowed. Turner bus­ied him­self in his LA stu­dio, co-writ­ing and pro­duc­ing singer-song­writer Alexan­dra Sav­ior’s de­but LP. He made an­other Last Shadow Pup­pets al­bum with fel­low ex-pat Miles Kane, and toured that. “Matthew went on the road with Iggy,” he says re­fer­ring to drum­mer Matt Helders’s stint play­ing with Josh Homme and Iggy Pop. “The other guys have not been play­ing shows, but they’re no rustier than we are.” Come the night of their live re­turn, there is no sign of rust at the gates of the Hol­ly­wood For­ever Ceme­tery. The band’s cho­sen venue is the final rest­ing place of Ce­cil B DeMille and Johnny Ra­mone, but tonight it’s the site for the de­frost­ing of Arc­tic Mon­keys. Turner dresses for the oc­ca­sion in head-to-toe black, his shoul­der-length hair fram­ing ei­ther side of his face. He looks like Sh­effield’s own Drac­ula, freshly crawled out of a nearby mau­soleum. “Raise the dead, be-beh,” he hams up to the crowd danc­ing among the tombs. The most im­me­di­ate sign of how they’re pre­sent­ing things dif­fer­ently is the num­ber of bod­ies on­stage. Tame Im­pala’s Cameron Avery and Tyler Park­ford of Mini Mansions join Turner, bassist Nick O’Mal­ley, Cook and drum­mer Matt Helders, mak­ing the group’s sound deeper, beefier and more widescreen than ever. It kicks off with a flash of black and red light­ing, then the open­ing notes of the al­bum’s lead sin­gle, Four Out Of Five. It’s the first of three new songs from Tran­quil­ity Base Ho­tel & Casino that re­ceive their de­but out­ings this evening. All three are met with si­lence as fans, un­sure of what to ex­pect,

hold their phones up des­per­ate to cap­ture them. The new al­bum is seem­ingly a con­cept piece set in a bar on the moon, so on Four Out Of Five – a woozy col­li­sion of Bowie and The Bea­tles that could dou­ble as a warped Bond theme – Turner im­me­di­ately in­vites the crowd to join him in an imag­i­nary taque­ria up there. “Lu­nar sur­face on a Satur­day night,” he croons, while switch­ing be­tween pi­ano and mi­cro­phone. “It got rave re­views/Four stars out of five!” There’s a rein­vig­o­rated free­dom to Turner’s on­stage per­sona – less of the OTT pos­tur­ing that be­came part of AM’s live shtick, some­thing more nat­u­ral about his move­ments. If he was act­ing the part of the weirdo rock­star on AM, he’s now com­fort­ably set into it, dump­ing the Amer­i­can­ised af­fec­ta­tion he adopted and redis­cov­er­ing his home­town ac­cent. “Good evening, ’ol­ly­wood,” he says, York­shire vow­els firmly back in place.

The rest of the Mon­keys, as is tra­di­tion, never ad­dress the crowd. In­stead, they mooch like lounge lizards around Turner’s maître d’. Cook re­sem­bles Pa­trick Swayze in Point Break, with locks flow­ing way past his shoul­ders, sway­ing his gui­tar like he’s bal­anc­ing on a wave. O’Mal­ley could be a younger Jack White, mood­ily pick­ing his bass. Matt Helders re­mains re­li­ably Matt Helders, thwack­ing his kit at Turner’s back in T-shirt and jeans, with short back and sides. The taster of new ma­te­rial might not im­me­di­ately hit home for the crowd, but the rest sends them wild, as the band build a setlist that acts as a scrump­tious, hits-laden pick’n’mix from ev­ery one of their pre­vi­ous five al­bums. Turner makes full use of the stage, stalk­ing the sides, squat­ting down and charm­ing the front rows, re­treat­ing to the mid­dle to have a sit-down on the keys. The Nick Caveesque points and Jarvis Cocker-y poses are re­served for choice mo­ments. On the colos­sal thump of Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair he wags his finger at the au­di­ence like he’s telling them off. Dur­ing Cry­ing Lightning’s dirty stoner rock he mimes tak­ing a bite while wrap­ping his lips around the line “as she bit into her straw­berry lace”. De­spite the con­fi­dence,

he does suf­fer one ner­vous jit­ter, fluff­ing a line on the sec­ond verse of A View From The Af­ter­noon. That mi­nor slip up aside, the band never ap­pear re­motely phased by the an­tic­i­pa­tion for their re­turn. They’ve come armed with a cat­a­logue that shows why, over a decade in, Arc­tic Mon­keys are still the most ex­cit­ing game in town. It doesn’t feel nos­tal­gic, it feels dan­ger­ous. The doe-eyed ’ 60s pop melodies of The Hell­cat Span­gled Sha­lalala make way for Bri­anstorm’s ex­plo­sive, mosh­pit-in­duc­ing surf punk. There’s a psy­che­delic wig-out for Hum­bug’s Pretty Vis­i­tors and some doo-wop har­mon­is­ing on One For The Road. More lat­ter-day crowd-pleasers come from Do I Wanna Know? and Knee Socks, the crowd so ex­cited they even sing the gui­tar riffs. There’s even a rare out­ing of B-side You’re So Dark, which gets air-punch­ing re­sponses from the more com­pletist fol­low­ers. This deep dive into their his­tory is proof that Arc­tic Mon­keys never got too comfy in any one lane. They’re not about to start now, ei­ther. The other two new tracks un­veiled this evening are a heavy, bass-driven She Looks Like Fun fea­tur­ing Turner bizarrely singing: “Cheeeeese-burg­er­rrr! Snoooow-board­ing!”, and One Point Perspective, which is a the­atri­cal – al­most Broad­way-es­que – stream of con­scious­ness. On the lat­ter, Turner speak-sings, “Bear with me, man, I lost my train of thought.” The re­main­ing bars play out as he stands with his back to the crowd, con­duct­ing his fel­low play­ers. De­spite the in­creased per­son­nel on­stage, tonight, it re­ally is Turner’s show. Waltz­ing around like a randy jaguar, he crawls out of Snap Out Of It and in­tro­duces a “song about a search for a lover”. The acous­tic lament of Cor­ner­stone is met with hys­te­ria, as men and women sigh at Turner’s thwarted at­tempts at romance. “You’re the best fuck­ing band,” shouts one on­looker. “Nice one,” says Turner in ac­knowl­edg­ment. He in­tro­duces I Bet You Look Good On The Dance­floor and the ceme­tery turns ri­otous. Be­fore the encore, the LA crowd call for their re­turn with a cho­rus of “Olé! Olé! Olé!” Turner reap­pears, teas­ing them: “Ah’ve only got one ques­tion left to ask you, ’ol­ly­wood.” R U Mine? closes out. Turner blows a smooch to the front row. The fic­tional taque­ria may get four stars out of five, but this evening, Sh­effield’s finest go one better.

It’s a scrump­tious, hits-laden pick’n’mix from ev­ery one of their al­bums.

Alex Turner points the way for­ward (p98).

Keys to the king­dom: Turner (Matt Helders, to the rear) takes a pew.

Grave on: (from left) Mon­keys fans gather at the Hol­ly­wood For­ever Ceme­tery; get­ting ready to rock in the front row.

Arc­tic Mon­keys: “still the most ex­cit­ing game in town.”

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