The sunny optimism of your average US citizen – an example from this morning: "You’re going for breakfast? That’s awesome!" – is a constant source of bafflement to someone like me, more used to the restrained social interaction of the UK.
But sometimes it’s not always surprising. When subpar Chicago rockers The Orwells, support for tonight, drop Arctic Monkeys’ name into their between-song patter, they get a Beatlemania-like response from the thousands of teenage girls making up the majority of the audience.
Indeed, the fanbase of the Monkeys in the US is surprisingly young: at one point a girl, when asked to provide her ID, asks if her Instagram account will do.
So, after dominating festival stages and end-of-year lists around Europe over the past year with fifth album ‘AM’ (review), the resurgent Monkeys are on a roll. If ever there was a time to make a go of the seemingly impossible task of pinching 1D’s crown as the UK’s most valuable musical export around today, it’s now.
And, despite the fact that they bring the damp Yorkshire weather with them, dousing Miami in unseasonable rain, it’s clear to see that the US has the hots for the Monkeys right now.
The screaming doubles in decibels when they eventually emerge from the dry ice that’s been pumped all over the stage, and a wall of camera phones arises, literally obscuring everything from view, instead filling Instagram, Vine and Snapchat accounts with opener ‘Do I Wanna Know?’.
On a side note, as well as an even bigger obsession with viewing gigs via their phones than back home, there are some fascinating differences in the gig-going experience between the US and the UK.
Here, the merch queue is bigger than the bar, and everyone is polite and puts their rubbish in bins. But, most shockingly, there’s a VIP section at the front of the stage, meaning you can only get close if you've paid the money required for a wristband: “It's the USA, baby!” a security guard tells me when I say that it’s outrageous.
Nevertheless, the Arctics’ set is as slick and well-oiled as the quiffs atop Turner, Cook and O’Malley (drummer Helders, meanwhile, remains steadfastly dedicated to his T-shirt/jogging bottoms combo), with the substantial cream of their back catalogue nestled in amongst ‘AM’’s highlights.
“What do you think of that new Arctic Monkeys record?” asks a chipper Turner, who increasingly looks (but doesn’t sound, I hasten to add) as if he grew up dialling 001 before phone calls, rather than the 0114 that stays plastered to Helder’s bass drum.
The audience’s response is overwhelming, with newies ‘Snap Out Of It’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ and ‘Arabella’ all greeted as if they were all Billboard number ones. The latter is spectacular, a beefy slab of classic rock that sees the band do the honourable thing and play the actual riff of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’, in homage to the hairy Brummies that inspired them.
‘Suck It And See’ provides the set’s only dip, but at least gives the phone-obsessed audience a chance to take photos of themselves rather than the band. In short, tonight finds the Monkeys on irresistible form, superbly riding their wave of success in Europe across the Atlantic.
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Words: Nico Franks
Photo: Zachery Michael