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Concert Reviews:
Arctic Monkeys give a little "Star Treatment" to the Masonic Temple
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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DETROIT -- Arctic Monkeys started its concert Wednesday night, Aug. 1, at the Masonic Temple boasting about a "well reviewed four starts out of five."

"That's unheard of," frontman Alex Turner crooned in front of the swaying, sold-out crowd before him -- which he dubbed a "lovely bunch." But truth be told that's hardly unheard of for the British group, and five out of five is not out of the question -- especially on Wednesday.

Over the course of its six studio albums, Artic Monkeys has become one of rock's most intriguing and ambitious acts, growing from the punky attitude of its debut EP to the sophisticated eclecticism of this year's "Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino." That could result in a train wreck on stage, but over the course of its 22-song, 100-minute show -- including a surprise cover of "The Union Forever" by Detroit's White Stripes -- Turner and company made it all sound perfectly cohesive.

The emphasis was on the new, and newer, of course. Following a well-received opening set by Los Angeles' similarly broad-ranging Mini Mansions, Arctic Monkeys took the Masonic stage in a wash of flashing red lights, the four band members joined by four additional musicians who would came and went in various configurations throughout the night. The soulful "Four Out of Five" was the first of five songs from "Tranquility Base...," while seven more songs were drawn from its lauded 2013 predecessor "AM."

The most impressive part of the night was how easily Arctic Monkeys wove its varied songs together, in a random, almost needle-drop fashion over the course of the show. The soulful groove of "Arabella" sounded perfectly of a piece with the urgent dynamics of "Brianstorm," for instance, and with the punky drive of "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor." No one song sounded too much like the other that preceded or followed it, though longtime fans certainly enjoyed a couple of high-octane, quartet-only performances, including "The View From An Afternoon."

As ringleader Turner, sporting a tan suit and, late in the set, a violet cape, was affable if not particularly talkative, switching between guitar and keyboards and milking responses at various points of the show. The only visual gimmicks were a lighted Monkeys sign at the back of the stage, and a lighted cube randomly placed on one side of the stage for the soulful encore "Star Treatment."

But anything more would have been superfluous; Arctic Monkeys' music was more than enough to carry the night, and when Turner asked the Masonic crowd "R U Mine?" at the end of the show, it was clearly a rhetorical question.



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