“Here’s a song from seventeen or so summers ago,” speaks Alex Turner, leading into the raucous guitar punctuated intro to “The View From the Afternoon.” Screams of recognition erupt from the audience as the track begins, as with almost every song in their set. Twenty years into their career and still at their very best, the Arctic Monkeys delivered a set oozing with nostalgia while maintaining their boundary-pushing, genre defiant streak.
Their fans have bought into the Monkeys' brand of nostalgia as well, adorning an informal dress code that harkens back to the best of 2013 Tumblr. Reviving the only aesthetic from my teens that doesn’t force me into a cringe-induced recoil, leather, lace, chokers, and knee socks flooded every section of the Garden on Sunday night in support of the Monkeys’ return.
Supporting on this leg of the tour are the Dublin native post-punk band and all around Buzzkill favorites, Fontaines DC. Their set, while occupying an opening time slot, felt more like a headliner in regards to the groups' stage command and energy. Fontaines' sometimes-upbeat-sometimes-discordant sound immediately won over the crowd, as frontman Grian Chatten's sings out some of their best, including "Nabokov," "Jackie Down the Line," and "I Love You." It was a blast getting to see them play to such a large crowd and be received so warmly, and we're eager to see them return again soon for a headliner of their own (fingers crossed!).
While in support of their newest album, The Car, their pitstop in Boston served more as a career-spanning eras tour for the brit rock heavyweights than a deep dive into their latest.
With an aesthetic that dominated and defined a generation of indie sleaze and grunge teens, it’s no surprise AM stole the spotlight. Seven tracks, including “Arabella,” “Do I Wanna Know,” “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?,” “Knee Socks,” and “R U Mine?” spread throughout their set, alongside big tracks from their earlier works Humbug, Favourite Worst Nightmare, and Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. It was a bit of a shock to be treated to so many of their older tracks, but really allowed for long-time fans to fully indulge in the heavier alternative sound that made the Arctic Monkeys the success they are now.
This isn’t to say the group hasn’t evolved since their early commercial successes. Over their 20-year career, the Arctic Monkeys have consistently found ways to push the envelope and redefine genres, expectations, and themselves. From 70s lounge to gritty British punk, the Arctic Monkeys' inspirations seem to know no bounds. Playfully asserting the Monkeys' newfound lounge aesthetic over their more volatile back catalog, the mashing and melding of their sonic influences felt oddly at home on stage.
A tremendously successful frontman, Alex Turner’s charismatic crooning had him in the driver’s seat for the evening, guiding our journey through the set. Though offering little words, it seems he’s fully leaned into the somewhat ridiculous role of rock & roll frontman. Turner is formidably cool perched at center stage, while breaking to traipse around the stage, pointing to fans and bandmates alike and adding unpredictable pauses into their best known tracks. He feels utterly in control of the show, steering the audience to wherever the set may go, and conducting his bandmates during the instrumentals of “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball.”
Apart from their appearances across the 2022 festival season and a one-off at Kings Theater in Brooklyn, The Car tour marks the band's first time on US soil in five years, and boy was it worth the wait. With an ever-changing setlist, high theatrics, and more energy than ever, this tour is not one to miss.