by / November 30th, 2009 /

Arctic Monkeys – O2, Dublin

The Arctic Monkeys that took to the stage of Dublin’s O2 was a far cry from the precocious young band that burst upon an unsuspecting music scene just four years ago. Back then, the Sheffield quartet answered to nobody: they shunned the majors to sign for mid-sized indie Domino Records (home to Franz Ferdinand) and indulged in typical rock star stunts like slagging off rival bands and talking at length about how they were so much different from your typical rock star. They said they’d never do arena tours, insisting it didn’t fit their music or their philosophy, yet here they were, playing to an (almost) packed O2 Arena on the last date of a two-week, ten-date tour of the UK and Ireland. It was inevitable that there’d have to be compromises along the way – nobody gets it their own way forever – but the brash youths were dead right about one thing: they’re definitely not suited to arena shows. Not yet, at least.

Taking to the stage on a night Americans call Thanksgiving and everybody else calls Thursday, the Monkeys weren’t exactly in celebratory mood, choosing to open with -Dance Little Liar,’ one of the drearier cuts from their navel-gazing third album, Humbug. The album’s been out for a good three months now, but it would be hard to tell from the audience’s muted reaction to the opening track: the enthusiasm that had buzzed around the venue for a good half-hour before the band appeared died down suddenly, although it was politely received. But the low-key, unfamiliar beginning only meant a louder pop for the song that immediately followed, -Brianstorm.’ Crowd favourites -This House Is A Circus’ and -I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ followed in quick succession, punctuated by another old song, -Still Take You Home,’ and suddenly all the signs pointed to a band that could easily place soon-to-be-classic anthems alongside lesser-known, but no less quality, album tracks.

Yet, for all the glory of the monster hit singles, it was never really that great of a show. Humbug is a difficult album to penetrate at the best of times – even the better tracks take some work to get in to – but songs like -Potion Approaching’ (misheard as -Persian Approaching’ – a much better title) and -Pretty Visitors’ became opportune moments for bathroom breaks as the set wore on – with a bit of luck you could even make it to the bar on the way back and still catch the start of the next song. -Crying Lightning’ was well-received, as was new single -Cornerstone,’ but it was the impromptu moments between songs – Alex throwing out a few bars of Rod Stewart’s ropey classic -Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ and putting on a hilariously over-sized t-shirt that had been thrown from the audience – that provided the most entertainment.

So overall a patchy night, but thankfully there was no repeat scenes of what had occurred in the same venue last Sunday, when Yusuf Islam was booed off for having the temerity to let somebody else sing his songs. There had been walk-outs on the band’s UK dates – showing that not all fans are particularly pleased about the band’s decision to accommodate their still-growing fan base – but the crowd did go home largely satisfied, having had the opportunity to hear their favourite songs in new, though uncertain, surroundings.

Photos: Sean Conroy

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  • John Feeney

    Harsh enough review. I thought the new songs sounded excellent and that the gig was also excellent. Only behind the Pixies and Blur as Irish gig of the year for me

  • Niall

    Nice Pics!

  • Chris McCourt

    you make them sound as if their new songs were terrible. i felt the crowd around me was absolutly buzzed about the new songs. I was expectin way less from their new ones but they blew me away in all fairness. the tshirt was a bit of humour but clearly not the best entertainment. amazin show

  • myth

    arctic who?

  • Danny O Mahony

    I never thought there was such a thing as a bad gig, i mean if u are a big enough fan of a band any chance to see them live will blow your mind right??
    Iv been at many gigs in my time and i have to say this is the first time iv ever been bored at one. The new songs were terrible killed any bit of atmosphere that was there after their biggest songs and the singer was so of his face he could nt even get his words out properly. Never before have i been at a concert that so many people just hung back from the crowd not caring about the band. This was without a doubt the worst gig iv ever had the misfortune to attend never mind pay money for.

  • Jack Donoghue

    To danny o Mahony.

    Where the hell were you for this gig? how can you say the crowd were hung back not caring about the band? You obviously missed 99% of the concert. I saw loads of people with cuts on there faces and people fallen on the ground such was the sheer energy and electricity in the standing area, also look at any video on you tube and you’ll see just how good the atmosphere was! I got my ticket at de last moment from a friend as i was’nt a very big arctic monkeys fan, but after that performance i’ve become obsessed. I’ve also done my research on Alex turner, the singer, and have found he doesn’t drink or do drug so he obviously wasn’t off his face.

    you my friend are perhaps to old for the gig scene, or maybe you deliberately wrote a poor review just to sound like you know what your on about, but most of what ypu said was wrong.

  • I wasnt at the gig, but personally I think their new stuff comes in a very, very poor second to the debut album, and I’ve totally gone off the band, having seen them play a couple of times before the debut was out and a few more since. It’s not the same anymore.

    All this rubbish about ‘too old to know the gig scene’ and ‘wrong about the atmosphere’ leveled at the people who didnt like it is just ludicrous though. It’s called opinion, and quite reasonably expressed it was, too. No need to get personal, just deal with it.