Arctic Monkeys, Milburn

Clive Drew 09/10/2005

“We are the Arctic Monkeys and we're the next big thing” is Alex Turner's first address to the audience as the officially most hyped band in the world ever take to the stage. This hype however can be detrimental, as this writer for one was wary at just how a band can be selling out 600+ capacity venues after just two singles, one of which was limited edition.

Support act Milburn went to school with the 'Monkeys and to be fair it's pretty obvious to see. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, - songs such as 'Cheshire Cat Smile' and 'Storm In A Teacup' are good enough to rival anything that their better-known Sheffield counterparts have to offer, adding a bit of ska here and there into the mix, and in all honesty in terms of quality there's very little difference between the two outfits.

With a fanatic crowd, mainly built up through the band's well-documented use of making every demo they've recorded available for free internet download, it does seem that the Arctic Monkeys are spearheading a new movement, perhaps kickstarted by the way the Libertines in their short lifespan broke down the barriers between band and fans. The opening salvo of new single 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' and 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco' is mightily impressive, and enough to dispel any initial cynicism, although having said that their members and Milburn's are virtually interchangeable, and even follow roughly the same blueprint, - i.e. ever so slightly cocky frontman, who partly sings, partly speaks the words, and a spikey, angular backing band.

There's a slight lull halfway through the set, when a fair few of the songs seem to merge into one, but mass singalongs like the split personality of 'Scummy Man' (now renamed 'When The Sun Goes Down') and the euphoric 'Mardy Bum' get things back underway, and ensure the show ends in fine fashion. Having said that though, the crowd still goes crazy throughout, singing along to every word and packing out a venue which is normally reserved for the more experienced touring band.

So, do the Arctic Monkeys truly warrant the hype and praise lavished upon them? You can't help but feel this is all a little bit much too soon, - as mentioned earlier it seems a little absurd that a band with so few releases to their name can sell out such large venues in front of such rapturous audiences, although it's a credit to their stringent DIY ethic that all this hype has been mainly self-generated and down to the band itself, and largely due to this by this time next year, the Arctic Monkeys will be as big as The Strokes.