TVD Live: Arctic Monkeys at Jacobs Pavilion, 6/22

PHOTOS: JARED PERRY Let me take everyone back for a moment to 1995. August 10, 1995 to be precise.

This was the day my musical taste began to take shape and my life changed forever. That’s far from hyperbole too. On that late summer evening in 1995, I saw my first concert—Weezer at the Nautica Pavilion.

That night, my scrawny little 13-year-old self had his mind fucking blown by live music for the first time. I remember it vividly too. My dad worked security and kept one eye on me and my friend while we parked our asses on the bleachers under strict orders not to move.

The opening jangle of “Surf Wax America” from that night still rings in my head now. My brain swimming with how fucking crowded the show was and everyone was freaking out to the same thing. I remember the giant =w= logo behind the stage and how larger-than-life it made the band seem. Those flashing lights and loud chords sparked a passion to see as many shows as possible through my high school and college years.

It’s crazy how some things stay the same, even as time moves on.

On Sunday night, the Arctic Monkeys came to Cleveland’s Jacobs Pavilion (formerly known as Nautica) and I parked my ass on those very same bleachers, returning to the scene of the crime, now as a 32-year-old man.

Looking out over the crowd, I was struck by just how young the audience was, but then I took a step back and saw myself. How many of these kids were experiencing a show for the first time?

They wouldn’t be disappointed because the guys in the Arctic Monkeys were born to play shows like this.

Let’s just start straight off the top that Alex Turner, the leader, singer, and guitarist is a natural front man. The guy oozes swagger and came on stage in a tailored suit, slicked back hair and with a confidence that drove the girls to shriek. Yeah, did I mention that the young audience was about 70 percent female?

Turner is clearly a heart throb and played up the role by borrowing a few Elvis-like hip shakes and winking at select girls in the front row. This guy has come a long way since his t-shirt days of their first record Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Now, he is pure sex by way of rock and roll.

Musically, the Arctic Monkeys settled into a mid-tempo groove for most of the set and pretty much rocked everyone’s face off. Bassist Nick O’Malley is their secret weapon for this sound as that bass is cranked way up and gives an impending sense of doom to every song. That edge is clearly indebted to a million classic rock bands that came before them, but it works as basis for their current sound.

To further solidify this connection, during an interlude in “Arabella” they broke into the groove from Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” Sadly, it was over the heads of a majority of the audience. I caught it though, so I tip my cap.

Their sound was just perfectly suited to a bunch of people at an outdoor show—rocking out. The Arctic Monkeys seem clearly destined to rule amphitheaters and arenas for a long time and it’s exciting to know that big giant rock bands aren’t completely dinosaurs.

As the night went on, the big illuminated sign in the shape of the logo on the cover of their latest album, AM, lit up the night, and all I could do is smile. It reminded me of that lit-up Weezer sign and how my senses reached their peak that night in 1995. How it lead me to chase that high for the next (almost) 20 years.

At that moment I realized all is not lost and the kids will be alright.

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