It’s only three years but in a bleak week, in a grim year – for some of us anyway – a jolt of happiness from a pretty fabulous night with the Arctic Monkeys seems a good deal.
Qantas Credit Union Arena, May 6
We may as well have been talking about him, not just singing back, when Alex Turner’s call to “get on your dancing shoes” got the appropriate response from a sometimes roiling, regularly roused and jam-packed crowd: “you sexy little swine”.
In a sharp grey suit with his hair slicked back, Turner had the air of an old school vampire, the kind who would seduce with the exotic and the broodingly forbidden rather than the sparkly and the repressed.
(Perhaps that channelling was one reason why She’s Thunderstorms had the compelling amalgam of the Beatles played by Queens Of The Stone Age and sung by a Las Vegas crooner).
There is a confidence about him now which never comes close to arrogance, instead settling somewhere near at complete ease, something which is always rather appealing. That confidence and ease, and ability to seduce, is mirrored in the way the Arctic Monkeys – mostly far less demonstrative than their frontman but never looking less than committed - now ply their trade.
It was there from the first slow grind of the hips in Do I Wanna Know and the more assertive swing of those same hips in Snap Out Of It, complete with falsettos, as much as in the slow strut of Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High.
It was underneath the woozy No. 1 Party Anthem, which suggested two sloshed people half dancing/half holding each other up but strangely never unsteady, as much as it was within Knee Socks, which felt like a home video strip tease, aided and abetted by Turner and drummer Matt Hedders coming across like Destiny’s Child doing the high voice backing vocals.
Put it this way, you weren’t going to mistake the fundamental drive of these songs.
That said, leaning heavily on the past two albums (which reek of having it away a fair bit more than we poor schmucks ever will, but let’s not get too jealous and bitter ... bastards) the set was a recognition of something else too. Something missed by those who jumped on or raised as some kind of banner, Turner’s speech at the Brit Awards which declared that rock’n’roll may look like “it’s fading away sometimes, but it will never die”.
And that is that rock’n’roll can be funk and metal and art and R&B: it shifts its shape to accommodate the smartest of minds and the Arctic Monkeys have some of those.
A show this enjoyable, this punchy and sensual, which could put the dancefloor and the factory floor into I Bet You Looked Good On The Dancefloor, earned the right to any cliche it wanted.
The sexy little swine.