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Live Review: Arctic Monkeys in T.O.


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TORONTO -- For those of you who've been living under a rock, or who are mellowing out for tonight's swoon-filled double threat - Coldplay and Richard Ashcroft at the ACC - here's the deal: England's Arctic Monkeys are music's hottest thing.


Dubbed by one U.K. periodical as this generation's "Most Important Band" and gulped down by ravenous English listeners, who recently made the Monkeys,' "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not," Britain's fastest-selling debut album of all time, in equal measure, the baby-faced quartet made their first Canadian headlining appearance last night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre.


Exploding onstage with the bombastic "The View From The Afternoon," the boys, who all hover around the age of 20, blasted through a 60-minute set that showed they're up to the task of penning the frantic rock songs bands like Oasis (for whom they opened on Monday night) gave up trying to write eons ago.


Following with drummer Matt Helders' thundering stomp and vocalist Alex Turner's nasally croon, the raucous, "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor," featured lyrics that paved the way for a night of stories about where the Monkeys are from (Sheffield) and what they like doing (carousing mostly).


"I bet that you look good on the dancefloor/ I don't know if you're looking for romance or.../I don't know what you're looking for," Turner teased to his adoring crowd.


Barely acknowledging the packed room to come up for air, bassist Andy Nicholson helped out on the vocal duties for "You Probably Couldn't See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me"


Four songs in, Turner dashed the blue hoodie he had been hiding under for the opening numbers. Nicholson, clearly emboldened, traded his winter coat for the trendy collar-up prep look, and the band ripped into the cryptic-sounding "Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But..."


Showing he has the makings of a future arena rock star, Turner pranced the stage issuing lines like, "All you people are vampires/ All your stories are stale." And when the song called for it, he was more than willing to add his own machine gun strums to Helders and Jamie Cook's industrial mesh of guitar and drums.


After a propulsive version of "From The Ritz To The Rubble," which featured ample amounts of crowd surfing, a gentlemanly Turner paused to let fans know there was a "little blonde girl" near the back he was worried was having trouble seeing.


The alarm bells didn't last long, though, as the Monkeys strutted through a percussive "Still Take You Home" and the bass-heavy "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured."


And by the time they got around to the crowd favourite, "Dancing Shoes," Turner had the packed room in his hands, cajoling them into helping out with coy lyrics like, "Get on your dancing shoes/ You sexy little swine."


Clearly seeing his disciples were parched, Turner lobbed his bottled water to thirsty revelers. "What's mine is yours," he offered.


Buoyed by the virtual love-fest that was going on down near the stage, the band gave the frenzied atmosphere a rest for a moment to play a new song - not that anyone noticed.


Encapsulating an awkward one-night stand, "Leaving Before The Lights Come On" offered lines like, "I suppose that's the price you pay" and "Get out before the lights come on."


Nearing the end of their set, Turner geeked out a bit. "How many have you have opened for Oasis? How scary."


But the audience gobbled it up, helping out on the "Up, up and away" bit from "Mardy Bum," and the "Kick me out, kick me out" chorus from "Fake Tales Of San Francisco."


Acknowledging the show as the band's proper introduction to Toronto fans ("We couldn't really have it last night," Turner said jokingly), the sweat-soaked foursome lurched into the set's closing track - "A Certain Romance."


Taking a drum-roll beginning and melding it with melodic Jonny Buckland-style harmonies, Turner painted a bleak picture of what life is like back home. "The point's that there isn't no romance around there," he sings.


With "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I Am Not" poised to make the band a household name everywhere; I guess hype is a good thing.


And for now, believe it.



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