Britain’s Arctic Monkeys pleases R.I. audience

Mike Farrell

Britain’s Arctic Monkeys are not your average rock band. In 2006, with only five years of musical background, the Sheffield foursome released their critically acclaimed debut album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.” Thanks entirely to internet promotion and insatiable media hype, the album shattered the previous first-week UK sales record and shot the band to superstardom.

With such immense overseas popularity, it was a shock to see Lupos’ Heartbreak Hotel so empty the night Arctic Monkeys were set to perform. As it was the second stop of their awkwardly planned North American tour (the first night was in New York, and their next show was in Canada), one would expect to immediately see a fairly full house, but as the night continued it became clear that those not in attendance were missing out on a fantastic show.

After a less-than-rousing set from Texas-based indie pop quintet Voxtrot and some technical difficulties with their stage lighting, the Arctic Monkeys took the stage and dove right in with “This House is a Circus” from their latest album “Favourite Worst Nightmare.” Since this tour was largely in support of the new album, most would expect the band to lay off of their older songs and focus heavily on newer material, but much to the audience’s surprise and delight their set list was a perfect mix of favorites old and new.

Standout moments from the night included a stripped-down version of “D is for Dangerous” featuring frontman Alex Turner and drummer Matt Helders trading vocal lines with minimal instrumentation; their breakout single “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” at which point there wasn’t a single stationary audience member; and the much anticipated sing-along introduction to “When the Sun Goes Down,” which had been requested (read: shouted at the band) more times throughout the night than any other song.

Arctic Monkeys seem to have taken recent criticism of their bland live show to heart, as an energetic light show complimented every note and added a new visual dimension to tracks like “If You Were There Beware” and “Teddy Picker.” However, the band still seemed somewhat self-conscious, rarely moving from their designated stage positions. Turner still did his best to engage the foreign crowd with dialogue in between songs, though it truly wasn’t necessary for a band whose music speaks louder than their words ever could.

As the show came to a close with “A Certain Romance,” the epic final track from their debut album, the audience was hardly ready for the night to end. Despite relentless cheers for an encore, the band disappeared offstage as quickly as they had come. Hopefully it won’t be years before they revisit New England again.