Arctic Monkeys Close North American Jaunt With Red-Hot Set at the Kia Forum: Concert Review

A gloomy Los Angeles weekend ushered in the first day of October on the same evening the Arctic Monkeys put a cap on three sold-out nights at the Kia Forum in Inglewood. The band was appropriately dressed for the occasion, conjointly sporting black and white suits while frontman Alex Turner masqueraded behind a pair of oversized, brown aviators through the first half of the sold-out arena show.

The Sheffield, England quartet stuffed seven albums and 20 years’ worth of material into an enthralling hour-and-a-half set of guitar, bass and drums. The group made a great impact on the alt-rock scape over the last decade with this mix, and while the Monkeys started their careers as plucky teens in the early 2000s, their fanbase has evolved over the years to be all-inclusive, drawing in new (and fairly young) listeners and devoted but retired fans who laud Turner’s prose and moody style.

After achieving notable acclaim in their native U.K. with the 2006 album, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” the group established their sound with LPs like “Favourite Worst Nightmare” and the Josh Homme-produced “Suck It and See,” both of which received minor nods in the setlist. Mainly, the band stuck to prioritizing their latest Mercury Prize shortlisted album, “The Car,” but struck a rewarding balance by weaving in 2018’s jazz-suffused “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino,” and its well-favored predecessor, 2013’s “AM.”

A circular portal depicting Turner’s every move was set up in the back of the center stage, turning into a magnifying glass for the guitar, keys and drum-playing gold dust that illuminated the evening. Starting with “Sculptures of Anything Goes” and the thunderous “Brainstorm,” the night launched on an up-tempo note, with drummer and backing vocalist Matt Helders sounding off as guitarist Jamie Cook and bassist Nick O’Malley filled out the sonic space with assists from a backing band.

The running joke of this tour has been what a challenge Turner makes it for fans to sing along. And it’s not that he’s going totally off-script, or that his grumbling falsetto is too much to match, but rather that he’s enunciating his way through songs like “Knee Socks,” “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” and “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball.”

Turner let the music do much of the talking and only addressed the crowd to candidly relay which record was set to go next. “Suck It And See,” he shouted before diving into the album’s title track (a surprise song on the setlist, as they tend to incorporate a few for each location) — although he did feel the need to clarify it was “from the LP, ‘Suck It And See.’”

The middle of their set consisted of fan favorites like “AM,” highlights such as “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” and “Arabella.” After exiting the stage and returning for an encore, the band delivered a dedication for long-standing fans, with a back-to-back medley consisting mostly of “Do I Wanna Know,” “505,” and “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor,” the latter having incited a massive mosh pit in the center of the Kia Forum’s floor.

And when his hands weren’t occupied with a guitar or piano keys, Turner spent much of the evening with his hands joyfully above his head — what read as a symbol of having hit the home stretch of the North American leg of their tour. The band will continue their international road trip with a pair of dates at Mexico’s Foro Sol on Oct. 6 and 7.

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