Arctic Monkeys Live @ Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids (18 March 2012)

So I went to a concert last night.

And let me tell you: it was perfect.

Hang on, I don’t think you understand. It was perfect. P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

Let me put this into perspective for you: Arctic Monkeys came onto the stage to the sound of KC & the Sunshine Band. That’s the way–uh huh! uh huh!–I like it, thankyouverymuch.

Yes, I saw Arctic Monkeys live last night, and my life will never, ever be the same.

What is this band? Seriously. 

We were in our seats about an hour before the show started–not because we were fighting for decent spots in GA (which would have been relatively easy to score) or we anticipated a massive amount of people or anything like that. Mostly because I wanted to land some free parking and avoid as many people as possible. This obsessiveness/anxiety resulted in the longest hour of my life. (Although I did get to hear this uber wicked cover of Macca’s “Monkberry Moon Delight”–one of my all-time fave Macca songs–by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Thanks, guys!) But once the lights dimmed and KC started singing, it was so worth it. Oh, was it ever worth it.

This band is so good live. They are so tight as musicians (two words: Matt Helders), and Alex Turner’s voice is flawless live–which kind of surprised me, considering their aggressive touring schedule and well, I heard a rumor that smoking was bad for you. Maybe it is, but he sounded greeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaat (plain old great is just too bland, see) last night.

Arctic Monkeys opened their set opened with the blistering “Brianstorm,” and the storm really never stopped. It felt like a thunderstorm was literally shaking the building, but no, it was just Arctic Monkeys doing their thing. They never even slowed down, each song somehow louder, grittier than the previous.

Full set list (my memory is a bit sketchy about the order of the last few songs, so this is by no means definitive):

  • Brianstorm
  • This House Is a Circus
  • Still Take You Home
  • Library Pictures
  • Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
  • The View From the Afternoon
  • I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
  • Pretty Visitors
  • Crying Lightning
  • The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
  • If You Were There, Beware
  • Brick by Brick (sung by “the rhythm panther, Mr. Matthew Helders”)
  • Fluorescent Adolescent
  • Evil Twin
  • R U Mine?

Before the show started, this young family came and sat behind us, eating cotton candy and talking about the one time they saw Taylor Swift. They had two girls who were no more than 10 and transfixed with Helders’ drum kit. “Oh, maybe they’re from England!” “Just because they have a British flag on their drum set doesn’t mean they’re British.” “Oh, well, I’ve never even heard of Arc-tic Monkeys.”

Oh, to be young and innocent again.

Alex Turner made sure everyone knew that they were Arctic Monkeys, Arctic Monkeys from High Green Sheffield, England. ‘Cos he told us two or three times. He was seemingly fascinated with saying Grand Rapids, Miiiiiiiiiichigan ‘cos I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times he said that. Sounded good, though.

“Did you come to party, Grand Rapids, Miiiiichigan?” he asked.

No, we came to see you, silly. Oh, but that’s the same thing, isn’t it? Screeeeeeeeeam!  

“I can tell,” he observed. “I can tell.”

“This is a tune called ‘Evil Twin.’ You’re going to love it, Grand Rapids, Miiiichigan. I know you’re going to love it.”

We loved it.

“Are there any ladies in Grand Rapids, Miiiiiiichigan who feel like screaming?” he wanted to know, introducing “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.”

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah! Well, at least, there’s two of us here. It looked like we were at a concert with a bunch of zombies, it looked like we were the only ones standing up in our section, and it sure sounded like I was the only one who knew all the words to all the songs. (Awkward: the pause between “Presuming all things are equal who’d want to be men of the people, when there’s people like…” and I shout out, “You!” Uhhhh, you mean to tell me nobody else knows the words?) But that might be because most of the people there were waiting to see Black Keys and could really care less about Arctic Monkeys, Arctic Monkeys from High Green Sheffield, England. Oh, did I forget to mention that they were simply the opening band for Black Keys? Oops.

And unfortunately, Alex kept reminding us they were just warming us up for the Black Keys, we were going to see the Black Keys soon, and they were going to leave us.


This is the first time Arctic Monkeys have been an opening act (although they did open for Oasis for a single show in Toronto in 2007), and they take the task very seriously. Turner told Spin before the first of their two sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden: “And with this tour, because we’re the opening band, we really want to do a good job of that. We want to really warm everybody up. Most of these people aren’t here to see us, so we want to push it. We’ve had great opening bands and you can tell the difference when you go on…We want to do a good job for the Keys. It means a lot to us to be able to do this but at the same time we’re aware that it’s their night. We’re just hyping everybody up.”

I was so hyped up after they finished their set, my mind and body turned to jelly. I could hardly function. I could barely point and grunt at the tour program and t-shirt I wanted to buy. And then my legs did a funny thing. They left the building before the Black Keys even played a single note. I’m really sorry, Black Keys. I simply had no control. Arctic Monkeys stole my soul (keep it, dudes), and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

(I’m also really sorry to all the Black Keys fans who kept coming in during the Arctic Monkeys’ set and had to tap me on the shoulder to get by since I was oblivious, totally entranced, swaying and singing with my eyes closed. Kind of like Marcus in About a Boy. Totally not embarrassing or anything.)

It was a fan-tas-tic night, full of bangin’ tunes, Alex Turner practicin’ a magic trick, the Macarena, kung fu fightin’, and, of course, pointing. If only I were a Collins and could squander my family fortune on following Arctic Monkeys around on tour–in a non-creepy way, of course. And by non-creepy, I mean that it is my will to live.

If I could be someone else for a week, I’d spend it chasing it after you. 

(Or two weeks. Or three weeks. Or three hundred weeks. I’m not too picky.)

Come back.


With Miles Kane.