One of the biggest draws of live music has always been how it humanizes the musicians. When you listen to somebody's voice on a record, especially a record as finely tuned as the Arctic Monkeys' latest, "AM," it is easy to lose sight of the real, living, breathing musicians behind the sound. In concert though, the musicians move to the forefront, and it is easier to look at them as real people.
This is not, however, what happened at the Arctic Monkeys concert last night at the Pageant.
Alex Turner is a rock star in every sense of the word, both impossibly cool and remarkably talented. When he walks on stage, sporting a tasteful white blazer, slicked back black hair, and a majestic semi-hollow guitar in his hands, he is truly bigger than life. He looks like a figure from another age, far too classy to be associated with my generation's celebrities.
The British rockers opened their set with "Do I Wanna Know," followed immediately by "Brianstorm" and "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I Moved Your Chair." The tracks sounded almost inseparable from the album versions, but under the flashing lights they took on an extra dramatic flair. Turner and Co. thrashed through the heavy guitar licks on "Brianstorm" and swayed lightly through the more bluesy "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I Moved Your Chair," bringing out the more nuanced character of each track.
Turner certainly has a way with words and doesn't shy away from spontaneous crowd banter. In an extended interlude before "Snap Out Of It," he yelled out "St. Louis, we are delighted to be back here. We have missed you terribly." He slurred his words heavily, and it was unclear if he was completely hammered or if that was just part of his British accent.
While the night's setlist was dominated by cuts from their latest album, some of the concert's highlights were the throwbacks to their first couple of records. Songs like "Dancing Shoes" and "I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor" off of 2006's "Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not" were a much-appreciated reminder of just how much the band's tone has changed over the last eight years. Even though the band has matured in that time, as is reflected in the more subdued tone of "AM," they still know how to rock that full-out, balls to the wall mentality of those first couple of albums.
The band played a long set list, totaling 20 songs, and closed out the night with a bombastic three-song encore of "Cornerstone," "One for the Road," and "R U Mine."