The VaccinesEdit this event
Normally, the prospect of going to see two alternative rock bands in a building that could easily pass for a small aircraft hangar doesn't exactly fill us with excitement. The 10,000 capacity Trent FM Arena may have originally been purpose built to serve the needs of local ice hockey stalwarts Nottingham Panthers but in recent times it's become the East Midlands regular stop-off for artists whose status and popularity has risen above the average club venue. Bearing in mind the city's second biggest rendezvous point of a similar nature, Rock City, houses a meagre by comparison 1,900 punters in its main room and there's no wonder many bands find themselves stuck between a rock (pardon the pun) and a hard place when booking a place to play.
One such act that find themselves faced with such a scenario - and has done since 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' catapulted them out of the blogosphere into the cavernous mainstream - would be Sheffield's Arctic Monkeys. Indeed, despite recent long player Suck It And See receiving mixed reviews upon its release this summer, their pulling power remains untouched, tonight's show selling each and every one of its available tickets within days of the show being announced. But then I guess that's what goes with the territory of being one of the UK's biggest musical exports this past decade.
For The Vaccines of course, playing to this many people in this kind of setting represents something of an alien experience. Sure, they've trawled the festival circuit these past few months demonstrating their wares before an ever-increasing live audience. However for a band with such lofty ambitions this is almost certainly where The Vaccines unashamedly see themselves in the none-too-distant future. Already castigated by many due to the hype that preceded their arrival, there isn't a lot else to say about The Vaccines that hasn't been uttered a thousand times. Except that despite not exactly reinventing the wheel or realigning any genre boundary classifications, they are undoubtedly the best at what they do in 2011's arid guitar-driven wasteland. While their influences are present for all to see, they exude a level of energy and enthusiastic self-confidence which suggests they've been building themselves up for such arena-sized shows of this nature from the outset. Criticise their populist sensibilities all you like but I'd still challenge anyone to name a better pop/rock crossover single this year than 'All In White', while the short sharp shocks that make up 'Wreckin' Bar' and 'Norgaard' provide a welcome respite from the standard Radio 1 fare usually served up in such vast confines as this. They even play a new song, 'Tiger Blood', which sounds pretty much like all of their other output. But then what did you expect? Simply business as usual, and on this showing, business is good.
Which brings us on to the Arctic Monkeys. Perhaps the most remarkable characteristic about their sustained position as arguably the only real successful independent to mainstream crossover act these shores has produced since Oasis is the fact that musically, they've gradually become less accessible to daytime radio listeners with every subsequent record. When the suitably bequiffed Alex Turner leads his band onstage, opening with the now familiar strains of 'Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair' pandemonium reigns supreme in the Arena's standing areas. Fortunately DiS is able to watch from the seated sidelines as pints, bodies and even individual items of clothing career backwards and forwards through the air like a high octane rally on Wimbledon's Centre Court in the middle of July.
While it's not in our remit to condone such actions, it doesn't need a rock scientist to peer around the room before noticing that this isn't your average gig-going crowd. It's probably fair to say, without trying to be condescending, that very few people here will be at the Hello Gore III event in Sneinton 24 hours later, or indeed any of the other numerous lower profile shows taking place at the less spacious venues around the city over the coming weeks and months. It is to the Arctic Monkeys credit however that they've maintained such a fervent fanbase throughout such barren times of diminishing returns due to plummeting record sales.
Never ones to play the safe option, this evening - the opening night of their current tour - is no different. Combining material from all four of their albums along with forthcoming b-side 'Evil Twin', given its first airing to a live UK audience here, their choice of songs probably wouldn't be at the top of everyone's personal favourite lists - 'Cornerstone' and 'A Certain Romance' being two notable absentees to the detriment of yours truly's pre-gig wishlist for example - yet there's very little that disappoints throughout the hour-and-a-quarter their main set is comprised of. Favourite Worst Nightmare is heavily represented, 'Brianstorm' and 'Teddy Picker' both resonating a ferocious edge alongside the more tranquil likes of 'Fluorescent Adolescent' and 'Do Me A Favour', which still sounds like The Doors 'Break On Through' revisited for the iPhone generation. Those here to scream and shout like it's 2006 get their wish as the aforementioned '...Dancefloor', 'Still Take You Home' and closing 'The Sun Goes Down' turn the arenas floorspace into something resembling a frenzied battlefield, albeit a sweat-induced good-natured one.
By the time a gloriously sedate yet exquisitely delivered '505' bring the encore and proceedings to a close, the Arctic Monkeys status as the undisputed kings of commercially viable alternative rock is well and truly assured.
- Mixtape Monday: The AIM Independent Music Awards 2012 - 50-song Spotify Playlist
- Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines at Trent FM Arena, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Fri 28 Oct
- SBTRKT, theQuietus, Matador + many more nominated for AIM's Independent Music Awards
- V Festival 2011: The DiS Review
- Björk and Domino Records founder to be honoured at inaugural Independent Music Awards
- In Photos: V Festival 2011 @ Weston Park, Staffordshire
- V Festival 2011: A DiS preview...
- This Week's Singles: 15/08/11 Battles, Darren Hayman, Toro Y Moi, Danger Mouse