English alternative rock band Arctic Monkeys stopped by TD Garden on Sep 3, returning to Boston for the first time since 2018.

The Arctic Monkeys Light Up Boston (Yes, There is a Mirrorball)

By Alisa S. Regassa, Crimson Staff Writer
English alternative rock band Arctic Monkeys stopped by TD Garden on Sep 3, returning to Boston for the first time since 2018. By Courtesy of Alisa Regassa

English alternative rock band Arctic Monkeys stopped by TD Garden on Sep. 3, returning to Boston for the first time in 5 years. The band consists of Alex Turner as lead vocalist, Helders on drums, along with Jamie Cook on guitar and Nick O'Malley on bass. Together, the Monkeys put on a riveting performance that impressed fans both old and new.

By Courtesy of Alisa Regassa

Turner was dripping with charisma, much to the delight of the Boston fans. Stepping out to the staccato drum beat on “Sculptures of Anything Goes” from 2022’s “The Car,” Turner was dressed to the nines, donning a suit along with his signature slicked-back hair. The synth blared in tempo with the pulsating strobe lights, casting a halo around Turner’s head to the thrumming beat. The Monkeys picked up the beat with subsequent tracks “Brianstorm” and “Teddy Picker,” emblematic of the riveting riffs and rumbling kicks of their early discography. Turner was often seen glancing back at Helders, who shined in solo moments on these tracks.

“The Car” features a more alternative offshoot from the rock-core discography the Monkeys are known for. Even 2018’s lounge-pop “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” is starkly different from their latest, emphasizing the group’s constant sound evolution. As a result, the more recent tracks worked like mellow interludes to balance out the otherwise high energy set. Yet even the chill tracks, like “There’d Better Be A Mirrorball,” were easily turned into head-bangers under Turner’s conducting — quite literally he conducted the beat of the cymbals as a mirrorball with “Monkeys” written on it descended, illuminating the entire stadium with an iridescent light. Similarly, “One Point Perspective,” cultivated an intimate atmosphere with the nostalgic visuals that transported the audience to being in a studio during the recording of the track. That’s the charming charisma the Arctic Monkeys bring to a live performance.

For a band that’s been touring for more than fifteen years with 7 studio albums under their belt, the concert setlist was packed with fan favorite tracks. Nevertheless, even the most mainstream of songs had flair. With Turner narrating “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” along with some perplexed facial expressions, the performance became a realistic account of an inebriated booty call. Cook kept it interesting during “505” with a swelling solo while Turner belted out the bridge. Even the chart-topping “Do I Wanna Know” came alive with the red stage lighting and Turner’s signature off-beat singing.

Still, there were some unexpected gems scattered throughout the set. The 2023 performance of “Cornerstone,” for example, offered a new interpretation of 2009’s “Humbug.” Turner put a new spin on the melody, elongating the chords on the lyrics “I elongated my way home,” and breathing new life into the tune. Likewise, “Pretty Visitors” stood out as a particularly impressive performance from the band; while Helders was going off on the breakneck BPM, Cook offered a refreshing modulation on the riff between the bridge and last chorus that Turner sustained vocally.

“Something for everybody. It’s a real mixed bag,” said Turner in a recent concert in Toronto. These words are emblematic of the Arctic Monkeys in concert. For those day one fans, tracks from “Favourite Worst Nightmare” were a delight to watch. On “Fluorescent Adolescent,” Turner exaggerated the pauses between the verses, heightening the audience’s anticipation, while “Do Me A Favour” saw sassy ad-libs from the singer. More recent fans from 2013’s “AM” era were not left disappointed. “Let me tell you about a girl I met. Her name is ‘Arabella,’” Turner teased, smoldering with charm before the hard-hitting snares kicked off “Arabella.” Meanwhile, O’Malley truly shined on “Knee Socks” — not only as a bassist but as a backing vocalist.

It’s no surprise that TD Garden erupted in undying cheers for an encore. The Monkeys stepped up to the challenge, delivering an unforgettable closing act. The band exchanged solos on the breakdown of “R U Mine.” Likewise, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” had everyone on their feet, ending the night with a high energy performance that did not disappoint.

—Staff writer Alisa S. Regassa can be reached at alisa.regassa@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @alisaregassa.