For a guy who’s been rightly hailed for writing some of the sharpest, smartest lyrics in modern British rock, Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner sure doesn’t have a lot to say. He and his bandmates roared through this hourlong Gotham gig — their highest-profile perf in the city to date — with energy and aggression to spare but were noticeably lacking in the interaction department.
Banter aside, the Monkeys didn’t hold back very much, offering up 20 songs in just a bit over an hour. Drawing equally from their just-released sophomore effort “Favourite Worst Nightmare” (Domino) and the critically lauded debut “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,” the foursome spiked up the edges of most songs and steered clear of the handful of lower-octane tunes in their catalog.
Tracks culled from the new disc fared best, particularly the adrenalized spy theme “Teddy Picker” and the snottily threatening “D Is for Dangerous” — in which Turner ticked off a snarky litany of taunts designed to deflate self-aggrandizing tough guys. Guitarist Jamie Cook translated that attitude into the six-string lexicon with panache, unspooling herky-jerky post-punk riffs on a whirling version of “Brianstorm” and teasing with a bit of spacious jazziness on “A Certain Romance.”
Turner and Cook are unquestionably the focal points of the quartet’s sound, but Nick O’Malley — who took over the bass slot last year — was often the straw that stirred the drink. Unlike his predecessor, Andy Nicholson, O’Malley seems to subscribe to the theory that it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing, and his playing on “View From the Afternoon” and “From the Ritz to the Rubble” had enough of that element to put aud hips in motion for the duration.