Arctic Monkeys play virgin gig at the Albert Hall

In the grand Victorian ballroom of the Albert Hall the Monkeys presented their new-found maturity and dark intensity.  The sound of the now five piece rumbled with a muscular depth and menacing growl that has only been recently conceived since their artistic re-birth with Queen of the desert rock, Josh Homme.   For all the musical virtuosity and sonic insouciance though, at times the elegant and cavernous monument seemed to drown their own physical beings.  You can take the music out of the boy……………..Still only 25, but at times Alex Turner’s sheer physical slightness and psychological shyness rendered both their musical development and cultural volte-face a little premature.  Don’t get me wrong?  This was a masterclass in stage dynamics, creating an atmosphere of both rhythmic density and visceral, youthful excitement.   This band have come along way in a very short time………The opening of Dance Little Liar was all twisting groove and growling delivery, starkly opposite to the song that followed, brianstorm, which featured Turner’s trademark yorkshire yarns.

The development of the band seems highly evolved and could serve them well in the ensuing years, especially in the stables of longevity and integrity – it takes a while to train a thoroughbred.  The one area that seems a little unsure of its career trajectory is Alex Turner and his stage manner.   Forever shy, he use to hide behind his youthful strut and his ironic knowingness.   Now he seems caught between irony and sincerity – gone beyond his years of teenage brashness yet still to approach anything like the stage presence of an experienced front man.  He still doesn’t feel comfortable leading the band and through his uncertainty his presence feels a little lost, especially in the enormous surrounds of the hall.   There are generally two kinds of great front men – one who exudes charisma and can charm a crowd at will – the other is the type who rarely speak a word, who just permeates a menacing presence of danger and intrigue.  Turner is neither one or the other – too shy to charm , too nice to scare!  Josh Homme needs to take him back to desert camp?

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