If you read any music website these days, they can’t stop stroking it over the band Arctic Monkeys. During the release of last year’s “AM” album, their fifth record, the band blew up and are now playing arenas. Despite their growing popularity, prior to seeing them live, I’d only heard two of their songs. Because I am in a position to meet the people that create the art, I often choose to meet the artist before I take a look at their work because from experience, countless artists of all genres that have severely rocked my world have been super cool and others whose art I could take or leave have turned out to be pricks. There is too much choice in the world for me to waste my time with people that have little or no respect for the very people that have contributed to their success. Despite having TWO bad experiences meeting this band, I fully admit that the two songs I know from this band I quite enjoy, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and see them live.
This has happened to me many times before where I am literally sitting in an arena filled with 18,000 people and I have NO IDEA of any of the music I am about to hear. This method is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it. You can truly go in with an open mind and let these people do their jobs as rock stars and turn you into a fan before the night is over. Arctic Monkeys played their largest ever US show on February 8, 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Here are 10 observations from my experience at the show.
1. The concert was not much of a ‘show.’ Playing Madison Square Garden is a privilege and not a right, so one would have thought this show would have been a spectacle as most concerts at the Garden are, especially since the band has spent 5 albums working up to this moment. Instead, the Arctic Monkeys had a gigantic but thin “A M” sign behind the band that lit up predictably during most songs. It was definitely a medium sized show placed in a large venue.
2. Arctic Monkeys do very little to get the crowd engaged. There was little banter between lead singer Alex Turner and the crowd. Turner played guitar for most songs and as a result, he stood in one place behind the microphone stand for the majority of the show. Crowd sing-a-longs were not happening either, which brings me to point number 3…
3. Arctic Monkeys songs are mostly forgettable. They do have some catchy moments, but would I rather listen to or see a band like Kasabian, Fratellis or Scissor Sisters whose music will not leave your head once it burrows itself inside? Yeah, any day! I mention these three bands because to me, Arctic Monkeys are an amalgamation of these 3 bands. I made myself a playlist of all the songs they performed in concert so I can focus on the studio versions and like I felt at the show, the music is pleasant and not offensive, but that’s about all I can say for it. I don’t see myself listening to their music on constant repeat.
4. Their music is very formulaic overall. Not very exciting verses and large choruses. So original. NOT!
5. They focused too much on their new album. They played all but 2 tracks off their newest record so fans that have been with Arctic Monkeys since the beginning have effectively been forgotten at their largest show to date in America. What a way to say thanks to your fans. Based on my not good experiences of meeting them, I am not surprised one bit.
6. The crowd was limp. As I said earlier, the band did very little to get the crowd engaged but for this bullet point, I’d like to focus on the lack of the crowd getting excited during songs. Sure there was generous applause in between songs, but it seemed that once a song started, people went back to texting and taking annoying cell phone pictures of either the band or the people they came with instead of getting involved with the show. I spent a lot of time looking around at the crowd reaction during the songs and for the lack of excitement I saw, I think people would have been better off playing the records at home and saving the expense and hassle of going to an arena. This is actually an observation that can be noted at most concerts as technology has really hindered people’s ability to live in the moment, but that’s a grievance for another day.
7. Their music, though popular, had little crossover appeal with people over 30. The crowd was extremely young and I felt like a dinosaur. For a rock band, I thought the crowd would be a bit more diverse, but I was wrong.
8. Lead singer Alex Turner is cute. Not the hottest guy I’ve ever seen, but he definitely has a 1950s greaser vibe going on and when I found myself getting bored, I was happy that I had some eye candy.
9. They covered The Beatles as safely as possible. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles being on the Ed Sullivan Show on the weekend of the Arctic Monkeys concert so they played a little tribute to the Fab Four. They chose “All My Loving.” It was a “by the numbers” cover. No risk involved. Of course, every music site is juicing all over it like they took a risk and played “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” or “Helter Skelter” which would have been much more suited to their style. But with the new trend in playing covers, I am grateful they didn’t do an ironic cover where they played an acoustic version of a song that has no business being disrespected that way.
10. Final thoughts. I am more familiar with Arctic Monkeys than I was before I walked into the show. I can’t say I hated the show, because I did not. I also can’t say that I will become a die hard after seeing them live. They have a handful of songs that I can see myself revisiting and they have many more that were completely forgettable to me. I make it my mission to have fun wherever I go, in spite of my surroundings, and yes, I had fun. But that says more about me than it says about Arctic Monkeys. I can’t believe that in the two times I’ve seen this band in “autograph situations” they chose to ignore fans because I see no reason to patronize a mediocre band who have let a tiny bit of fame go to their heads. There are plenty of other bands who appreciate the position they are in and who are better performers.
The setlist was:
Do I Wanna Know? / Brainstorm / Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair / Snap Out of It / Crying Lightning / Old Yellow Bricks / Fireside/ Knee Socks / Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? / Arabella / Dancing Shoes / Pretty Visitors / I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor / Cornerstone / I Wanna Be Yours / Fluorescent Adolescent / 505 (with Miles Kane)
All My Loving (The Beatles cover) (with Miles Kane) / One For The Road / R U Mine?
I went to see The Eagles on November 8, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York for the first of 3 sold out shows. Here are 10 insights I gleaned from watching the show.
1. Eagles fans have not aged well. There were not many young people at the show and it was sort of depressing to see so many obese fans with canes trying to squeeze into the seats.
2. The Eagles have a lot of good songs. They played a lot of them too including Tequila Sunrise, Witchy Woman, Lyin Eyes, Those Shoes, Hotel California, In The City, Take It To The Limit, Life In The Fast Lane, Desperado.
3. Having met Don Henley and Glenn Frey and knowing what motherfucking horrible miserable bastard assholes they are towards fans, every time they tried to say “Thanks” or show gratitude at the show, I knew 100% they were lying and I hoped a lighting rig would fall on them.
4. Joe Walsh was the highlight of the show. He played a few scorching guitar solos that brought smiles to my face.
5. Pre-recorded video messages by Henley and Frey to introduce certain songs were horrifyingly cheesy.
6. The loudest applause of the entire night was when Madison Square Garden got the video screens in the cheap seats to work about 7 songs into the concert.
7. After this show, there are very few living legends I have not seen in concert.
8. Despite looking a little worse for wear, the Eagles still sounded great.
9. The show should have been called the “We Want Your Cash Tour.”
10. While happy that I saw the Eagles to “cross them off my list of experiences I want to have in this life,” I will never see them again.
The Eagles – Timothy B Schmit, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh
The set list was:
Saturday Night/ Train Leaves Here In The Morning / Peaceful Easy Feeling / Witchy Woman / Doolin’ Dalton / Tequila Sunrise / Doolin’ Dalton – Desperado (Reprise) / Already Gone / The Best of My Love / Lyin’ Eyes / One of these Nights / Take It To The Limit.
Pretty Maids All In A Row / I Can’t Tell You Why / New Kid In Town / Love Will Keep us Alive / Heartache Tonight / In The City / Life’s Been Good / The Long Run / Funk #49 / Life In The Fast Lane
I’ve seen Muse in concert many times before and they never disappoint. On their second of 2 sold out nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden, despite feeling very under the weather, Muse did their jobs as rockstars and for two hours catapulted me into another time and space! Here are 10 reasons Muse are one of the best band ever.
1. Non-stop stage action for two solid hours. This came in the form of great visuals, flashing lights and lead singer Matt Bellamy running all over the stage.
2. Great songs that rock. I mean, holy shit! Their songs rock. To see a stadium of people singing in unison to a Muse song instead of your typical stadium fare is awesome! People play it safe too often. Way too often.
3. They change the setlist up. Seeing them two nights in a row, I think I had more fun the second night! The energy was so much better and people were really getting loose. Speaking of setlist, they have good pacing too. They have so many songs that could be the encore because they are so epic, but they are peppered in throughout the set because they have so many great tracks to choose from.
Matthew Bellamy of Muse
4. Ticket prices were not horribly expensive (considering). I understand that so many rockers need to build another wing on their mansion, but why make the fans pay for it?! The cost of tickets to both nights was cheaper than 1 night of Fleetwood Mac! I blame Stevie for that!
5. Matthew Bellamy is a guitar god. On his knees, he performed the Star Spangled Banner on guitar! And rocked the shit out of it!
6. Their lyrics have something to say but are not overtly preachy. I like a band who may make you investigate something you may not previously thought of. I’ve said this a lot before, and I will say it again, their song “Uprising” should be the world’s national anthem! I used to enjoy that so much with Prince, because his lyrics made you curious to investigate spirituality, unfortunately, now his lyrics are like a sermon of why you are going to hell. Ugh!
7. Great use of covers. They did a snatch of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” and on the second night, they did their cover of “Feeling Good,” which definitely adds something to the original – some rock and roll! Plus, what great lyrics to hear a room of 20,000 people sing. It’s a new dawn/It’s a new day/and I’m feeling good!
8. Great stage set up. I briefly touched on it above, but it’s worth repeating. Every song found the stage transforming into something different and the lights and visuals were super cool. I think if you were a non-Muse fan and just watched the visuals, you’d be hard pressed not to be very impressed.
9. The band is nice to fans. A lot of people most likely have not met them, and maybe they don’t find it important. But I do. If a person preaches love and peace and then behind the scenes they are a prick (like Madonna, Prince just to name two brief examples), that taints my experience. I’ve met the band on several occasions and they have no problem being cool to fans.
Matthew Bellamy of Muse and Geoffrey Dicker
10. If you walked into the Muse show with zero knowledge of their music and you witnessed the things I’ve mentioned above, unless you are just a bitter and angry person, you would have found at least one of these qualities rocking your world and these days, that’s all you can ask for!
The set list on April 15, 2013 was: The 2nd Law: Isolated System / Supremacy / Map of the Problematique / Supermassive Black Hole / Resistance / Star Spangled Banner (on guitar) / Panic Station / Knights of Cydonia / Monty Jam / Explorers / Follow Me / United States of Eurasia / Liquid State / Madness / Time Is Running Out / Undisclosed Desires / Stockholm Syndrome / The 2nd Law: Unsustainable / Uprising. Encore: Starlight / Survival
The setlist on April 16, 2013 was: The 2nd Law: Isolated System / Supremacy /Panic Station / Supermassive Black Hole / Plug In Baby / Resistance / Star Spangled Banner (on guitar) /Hysteria / Knights of Cydonia / Feeling Good / Follow Me / Sunburn / Liquid State / Madness / Time Is Running Out (with “House of the Rising Sun” intro) / Undisclosed Desires / Dead Star / The 2nd Law: Unsustainable / Uprising. Encore: Starlight / Survival
On April 15, 2013, Muse kicked off their two night stand at Madison Square Garden in New York. Muse always puts on a good show and as far as their set goes, this might be their best tour yet. They went on just around 9:05 pm and played for 2 hours. The first song of the night was “Supremacy” and it went a little something like this…