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‘Like Hugh Grant…but Hotter’

The Dallas Arctic Monkeys show kicked off with the help of We Are Scientists, who took the stage for a ridiculously excited audience, many of whom would have gotten worked up by the mere glimpse of a cereal box through the tour bus window out in the parking lot. What got the biggest screams, thought, was frontman Keith Murray’s clever observation: “See, the Arctic Monkeys, they’re like Hugh Grant, but hotter.” The female portion of the crowd confirmed this observation with vehemence.

Soon they were gone, leaving the Granada Theater’s inhabitants to cram together in anticipation of finally seeing the Monkeys. The band took the stage, to great applause and yells from their adoring audience. The message emblazoned on Matt Helder’s drum kit set the tone for the evening: “The funk might fracture your nose.” From “Riot Van” all the way through to the end, the Arctic Monkeys were in fine form, tearing through the songs at breakneck speed. The departure of bassist Andy Nicholson did not slow them down one bit; his replacement Nick O’Malley was more than competent, as all four Monkeys seemed to share one consciousness that evening, so well did they play together and read each other. Old favorite songs sounded anything but tired, given a new life through the band’s nearly shocking intensity. An overall sense of urgency was created.

You were no longer a part of yourself, you were part of a screaming mass, yelling the words with and back at frontman Alex Turner, giving it as good at you were getting, and then some. For that instant, as cliche as it may seem, all was right with the world. You were a part of it all, caught up in near indescribable but impossible to forget emotion.

Turner led the band like a man possessed, as the songs frequently accelerated wildly. But as energetic and unstable it seemed, the band was never in danger of collapse. That’s what solid months of constant touring will do. The Monkeys had clearly grown and matured as players, and as the audience we benefited handsomely.

The set list included all of their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not; two tracks off their recently released EP, Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?, the title track and “Cigarette Smoker Fiona,”; and an as-yet-unreleased song, “Leave Before the Lights Come On.” Although only a quarter of the audience, at best, recognized that song, it didn’t prevent a moment’s enjoyment for anyone else.

As the Monkeys piled off the stage, an air of finality settled over the whole scene, and the crowd began dispersing into the steamy Dallas night, a little glad to be free of the heat of the Granada Theater, a little sad that this unforgettable moment in time had drawn to a close. As Alex Turner would put it, “Yeah, Dallas is quite hot, both in temperature, and, um, feelings.” HOLLY SPIDLE

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