The Black Keys at 1STBANK Center, with the Arctic Monkeys, 4/30/12

Eric Gruneisen
Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys last nigh at 1STBANK Center. More photos: Arctic Monkeys in Denver.


See Also: Q&A with Nick O'Malley of Arctic Monkeys. More photos: Arctic Monkeys in Denver.

But before the night's denim-jacket rock, there was leather-jacket rock. Although only the few frenzied fans in the first couple rows seemed fully aware of the fact, brash Brits Arctic Monkeys spent the past few years and four albums headlining their own gigs before accepting the perfect pairing that is their support slot for the Black Keys. But with a great headliner comes great responsibility: It takes both pride and prowess for a band that once headlined Glastonbury to pull off a supporting set that blatantly ignores most of its greatest hits.

Instead of pandering to their North American crowd with their international jams, the guys stuck to a set more diverse than their typical lineup: Throughout a set only three songs shorter than their followup, Arctic Monkeys traveled through all four albums without leaving anyone gypped. But it was the band's album-less orphan single "R U Mine?" that earned its greatest surge in sentiment.

Tightly wound and desperately energetic, the song strips the guys back to their ambitious early roots, back to wholehearted guitar and artful lyrics that find the everyman in the everyday. "Are you mine?" demands the band's lead singer and chronicler of urban unrest, Alex Turner, "Or just mine tonight?" All sharp riffs and even sharper accents, the overtly intuitive foursome set a precedent for brazen swagger before the Keys even entered the picture.

Eric Gruneisen
Arctic Monkeys last night at 1STBANK Center. More photos: Arctic Monkeys in Denver.

The band's newest single was expertly positioned as its closer, a sound summary of sorts after an hour of wholehearted rock posturing. In front of an early-bird audience dominated by Black Keys fans, the band proved early on that it had something to prove. Tucked behind a Union Jack-themed setup, drummer Matt Helders grimaced like Popeye as he proved his worth as one of the tightest modern drummers on tour. ("If You Were There, Beware," with its aggressive drum and guitar recess, might be his swan song.)

Dressed and coiffed like an extra from The Outsiders, Turner launched himself off of amps and drum props alike, sliding to his knees for effect when his songs swelled. Those who shelled out their $55 for the opener could be spotted by their sing-a-long accents, which mimic the band's real ones, and their dance moves, which act out Turner's lyrics ("Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" finds fans pretend "kung fu fighting"). Even the group's shiest members, guitarist Jamie Cook and bassist Nick O'Malley, bopped, swayed and loosed the occasional grin as their surprise in the audience's support turned to satisfaction.

Eric Gruneisen
Arctic Monkeys last night at 1STBANK Center. More photos: Arctic Monkeys in Denver.

The genius of Arctic Monkeys is that, no matter what the content, their intuitive arrangements and insightful commentary position the guys as the perfect representatives of whatever audience they're speaking to -- and speaking for. Often referred to as the Jarvis Cocker of his generation, Turner demands respect and rapture for lyrics referencing low standards ("Still Take You Home"), high-school pranks ("Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair"), suburban ennui ("Teddy Picker") and sour sex lives ("Fluorescent Adolescent") -- all of which form a set predicated on the exact culture they're surrounded by.

Page down for Critic's Notebook and setlists for both bands.

Location Info


1STBANK Center

11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, CO

Category: Music

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Mauricio O. Rocha
Mauricio O. Rocha

You captured the show so well, Kelsey. I went on day 2 and you describe it just how it was, even the suited roadies. Props to you!


I really don't know too much about this band, but the arena scenes look great.



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