Review — Arctic Monkeys Put Red Rocks In a Daze

On Monday night, the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre became home to a musical experience poised to linger in the hearts and ears of those in attendance. British rock band, Arctic Monkeys, were the evening’s headliners, while Fontaines D.C., Dublin’s indie post-punk sensation, served as the opening act.

READ: Review — Gregory Alan Isakov Take Red Rocks On a Journey Beneath a Glowing Moon

Arctic Monkeys

A significant number of concertgoers, myself included, found ourselves at the venue an hour after the doors swung open at 6:30 PM. The ascent up the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a physical challenge on its own, took on an even more daunting figure paired with the anxiety of arriving late. Solution for future Red Rocks visitors: take the taxi up, especially when time is of the essence, transforming a half-hour hike into a mere five-minute drive.

Fontaines D.C. — known for their Grammy-nominated indie post-punk sound — delivered a performance that balanced subdued physical energy with profound lyrical depth. They favored minimal interaction between songs, allowing their lyrics to create a reflective atmosphere. While they graced the audience with tracks like “Televised Mind” — from their widely acclaimed album, A Hero’s Death — the spotlight was on their latest offering, Skinty Fia. Their set was modest and unassuming, concluding swiftly, leaving the stage in anticipation of the headlining act.

As the darkness deepened and the amphitheater continued to fill, a canopy of purple clouds partially obscured the night sky, adding an ethereal ambiance to the night that lay ahead.

Arctic Monkeys — esteemed for their smooth rock sound and lyrical finesse — stepped onto the stage amid a palpable sense of anticipation. When Alex Turner’s prolific voice pierced through the cheers, a hush fell over the crowd, a testament to his ability to put an audience in a trance.

The show commenced with the track “Sculptures of Anything Goes,” instantly immersing the audience in a musical entanglement. A circular monitor at the back center of the stage projected a fluorescent light that not only illuminated the band but also cast a grainy, retro aesthetic on the screen itself while hanging in front of their fancied mirrorball.

The stage aesthetic, the band’s presence and their sonic swagger seamlessly coalesced into a casual, cool vintage essence that could make even a lounge performance an extraordinary experience. While the band showcased tracks from their latest album, The Car, such as “Body Paint,” and “There’d Better Be a Mirror Ball,” their 2013 album AM dominated the setlist, featuring anthems like “Arabella,” “Do I Wanna Know?,” and “Knee Socks.”

At one point, Turner interjected with a witty remark. “You have to agree that out of all the colors of the rainbow, red rocks.” This comment, perhaps too kind, brought to attention the only dissonance of the night – the audience’s neutral expressions. It could have been Turner’s hypnotic vocals or the awe-inspiring presence of Arctic Monkeys, but there was a noticeable absence of the typically thunderous crowd participation. On this calm, cloud-covered night, the audience seemed almost too polite, a minor quirk in an otherwise stellar performance.

The band marched on to the encores of “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and “R U Mine,” sealing the night with a resounding exclamation point.

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