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Arctic Monkeys "Warm Up" Madison Square Garden for The Black Keys
On Thursday night, Arctic Monkeys opened for The Black Keys’ second sold out show at the world famous Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately, the term “sold out” is no indication of an audience’s influx during the start of an opener’s set. Arctic Monkeys were greeted by a sparse crowd whose demeanor was, well, tepid at best. This came as no surprise to the indie rock quartet from the UK. In interviews, when asked about the band’s role in The Black Keys’ arena tour, frontman Alex Turner often referred to Arctic Monkeys as the “warm-up act”, an ambiguous expression rumored to have been of either humility or resentment. You decide.
As fans trickled into MSG, Arctic Monkeys delivered energizing tracks from albums Favourite Worst Nightmare (“Brianstorm”, “This House Is A Circus”) & Suck It and See (“Library Pictures”, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”). After a lively performance of “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” (from Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, 2006), Turner pointed to the growing crowd, saying, “Hey, it’s fillin’ up now. Look at that.”
By the time Arctic Monkeys played the light, bright sounds of “Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” (from Suck It and See, 2011) & “Fluorescent Adolescent” (from Favourite Worst Nightmare, 2007), they had an even larger audience happily bouncing around. Once again, Turner felt the need to address the crowd.
“Are you feelin’ warm?” Turner asked, “Because that’s what the Arctic Monkeys came to MSG to do – warm you up. Are you feelin’ warm? You could get warmer.”
The band went on to play “Evil Twin” (B-Side to single “Suck It and See”, 2011), during which Turner instructed, “Clap your hands, New York City. Play that fuckin’ game.” The crowd was oblivious to the comment, & “Brick By Brick” (from Suck It and See, 2011) was met with rowdy applause as the audience boomed to nearly full capacity. The final song “R U Mine?” (newly-released single, 2012) elicited piercing cheers, praising the English band for an invigorating set.
Whether Arctic Monkeys were a humble or resentful “warm-up act” is still up for speculation, but the resounding truth remains: the quartet had indeed fulfilled what they said they came to do – incited an auspiciously warm welcome for The Black Keys at MSG.