The Bristol academy was packed to the rafters for the hippest gig of the year. The kids were there, the museos were there, the curious were there, the BBC was there, and the Arctic Monkeys were waiting in the wings. You could hardly hear for the buzz.
…his father Henry experimenting with strange toy instruments
Openers the Mystery Jets kicked things off with a thick slice of 21st Century Psychedelica. They had everything to prove, with their debut album Making Dens due for imminent release, so they took the show head on. With Blaine Harrison going hell for leather on the dustbin lid and cowbell, and his father Henry experimenting with strange toy instruments (and, it must be said, looking very confused) beside him, a shaky start progressed into a solid performance. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they won a few new fans with their sprawling but catchy tunes like “You Can’t Fool Me Dennis” and “The Boy Who Ran Away”. They were a little too ‘noisy’ for my taste, at some points failing to accentuate the melody within the soundscape, and indulging in a few too many consciously strange noises at the top and tail of the set, but they had an appealing energy and their set-up was nothing if not interesting.
a significant proportion of the floor crowd found themselves bouncing
The hipster nerdy rockstars We Are Scientists grounded the proceedings more firmly with their brand of driving rock and roll. Singer Keith Murray came across as a little nervous, actually, and it couldn’t have helped that halfway through the set someone threw a poster that was “defiled by runes” onto the stage. Still, those of us in the audience who have a penchant for Californian geekyness gave a rapturous welcome and by the time they kicked into the hit single “The Great Escape” a significant proportion of the floor crowd found themselves bouncing. Good stuff.
it was a broadcast set
The night, of course, belonged to the four lads from Sheffield who have suddenly become everyone’s (yes, everyone’s) favourite band. Alex Turner (officially the Coolest Man On The Planet, according to the NME, groan) tried to be nonchalant upon entering, but couldn’t suppress a genuine smile when his ‘alreeeght Bristol’ returned a ear-splitting roar from the crowd. By this time though they were more than used to the glare of the spotlight. The adoring crowd was forgiving when Turner apologized for not moving around very much — “we’re on the radio and we want to get it right” — although later he jokingly apologized to the listeners at home for moving around too much. It was a broadcast set, for sure, peaking early with “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor” (cue near ecstasy from the crowd) followed straight away by “When The Sun Goes Down” (ditto). They hardly paused for breath during the short set, reminding us why they are suddenly the saviours of British rock music. Take it from one that doesn’t buy the hype — there really is something very special about the Artic Monkeys.
having lost the limelight so completely to the previous act
Oh, and Maximo Park were there too. You couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Scooby and his post-punk pals, having lost the limelight so completely to the previous act. That being said, they were sharp, precise and cool as ice, and their fans were there to remind them that in their eyes they were still the genuine headliners. Showcasing their debut album, A Certain Trigger with besuited, backlit aplomb, new single “I Want You To Stay” being received as enthusiastically as old favourites like “Apply Some Pressure”. There was nothing second fiddle about their performance.
All in all, a fascinating, enjoyable, ‘too cool for school’ rock show. As the hype surrounding the BRIT awards proves, indie is well and truly back at the top of the pile, and it’s good to know that the scene is in safe hands.