Despite Arctic Monkeys being terrific, it's fair to question the English rockers as a Lolla headliner. They haven't had nearly the success in the United States that, say, Eminem has (though I've said it before and will say it again, it is ridiculous to have Marshall Mathers back as a headliner three years after his last stint). Perhaps that's why the Monkeys excessively favored songs from last year's "AM," which, coming in at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, marked the group's biggest debut in this country. They played (by my count) 10 of that record's 12 songs, performing just two from their debut ("Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not"), four from "Favourite Worst Nightmare" (which debuted at No. 7) and two each from "Humbug" and "Suck It and See."





It's not as if they've struggled to draw before at Lolla, bringing in a huge crowd in 2009 and an even bigger one in 2011. So they didn't have to push all the non-recent stuff to the side, especially considering Alex Turner and co. don't quite bite into the newer material with as much ferocity. Granted, the tracks on "AM" continue the band's impressive maturation. It's a very good album, like all their albums. Those songs just don't click in concert as much. Opening with "Do I Wanna Know?," "Snap Out of It" and an overly swaggering "Arabella" delayed the show's intensity, eventually arriving with the first attack of "Brianstorm." "AM" standout and set closer "R U Mine?" killed, but most of the show's other highlights came from other albums: the swagger of "Dancing Shoes," the forward-moving ferocity of "Teddy Picker," the escalation of "Crying Lightning." It was a sly move to follow "Why'd You Only Call Me When Your High?," a song expressing frustration toward a booty call, with "Fluorescent Adolescent," which romanticizes wilder days of the past.



This is still an excellent band performing uniformly strong work. It was my third-favorite show of the day, behind Royal Blood and Hozier. It's just that after seeing several commanding Arctic Monkeys performances in the past, this good one felt a little tame by comparison.



(Photos by Chicago Tribune)

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