Omar Soliman 05/09/2005
“I like this; we should do this again sometime” quips lead-singer Alex Turner. This feels less like a gig, more a celebration, a send-off towards the frenzied success Arctic Monkeys will enjoy. A realisation that intimate occasions like these will become a sweet, distant memory. It's a bit of a love-in too; attendance is either through blood relation or friendship to a band member, or the dedicated way - enduring three hours of your Saturday morning queuing outside Jacks Records. The Grapes being the commemorative venue, where a copy of Sandman becomes a makeshift fan, fear that the floor will shatter due to over-zealous moshing and you predict you've lost a stone in sweat at the end. A tribute to old times.
Back to the gig. Back to the future with opener 'View From The Afternoon' a rarely downloaded newie, which sets a thunderous tone of crashing drums and ripping guitars. 'Vampires Is A Bit Strong But' hints at ska and is hopefully a riposte to the music industry, specifically at journalism at its laziest with the 'Northern Libertines' label. There's none of this 'Albion' malarkey - the songs provide a connection attune with modern living. None of the ramshackle sound either, since the original Grapes gigs Arctic Monkeys have become tighter than a 1000 capacity tent with half of Western Europe trying to cram in.
'I Bet You Look Good' shows the warranted appeal - the greatest bands have that ability to communicate directly with their audience. The forthcoming single puts rhyme to those nights out exchanging knowing glances, a scenario most of the audience can align to. Everyone knows a 'Mardy Bum', whilst 'Sun Goes Down' conveys the darker, seedier side of Sheffield, both suburban soundtracks. Put simply, the opening lyrics to set-closer 'A Certain Romance': “Well they might wear classic Reebok. Or knackered Converse. Or trackie bottoms tucked in socks. But that is all what the point is not. The point's that there int no romance around there” is the best synopsis of ASBO Britain The Daily Mail hasn't noticed yet.
With only the '5 Minutes with Arctic Monkeys EP' out the live shows feel like a greatest hits tour. How times have changed since that seminal release as Alex remarks that the ode to volatile bouncers, 'From The Ritz To The Rubble', has already lost it's charm since apparent celebrity status gained him and bassist Andy Nicholson queue jumping rights at The Leadmill! Whilst the released songs have gained notable airplay the role of the internet should not be discounted; with mp3s exchanging as easily as bird flu it shouldn't be shocking that the fans shout back the words.
Already hailed as a blossoming lyrical genius in the British tradition of social commentaries that links The Jam to The Streets, Alex Turner is also a charismatic front-man; the boy will be a star. The way song requests are jokily rejected, the almost embarrassed sincerity in dedicating 'Mardy Bum' to those who queued to be here as well as spotting family members. It's as if he cherishes the intimacy as much as the audience does.
As 'A Certain Romance' rings to a climax the crowd parts letting band-members through. Off outside through the fire escape, leaving gigs like this something to remember.