Review: The Last Shadow Puppets

Alex Turner straddles an uncomfortable line between charisma and ego in Manchester, writes Stephanie Cottle

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Castlefield Bowl, Manchester
10 July, 2016

Stepping off the train at Deansgate Manchester I was sceptical about what to expect from The Last Shadow Puppets, made of up of The Rascals’ Miles Kane and Alex Turner, infamous lead singer of Arctic Monkeys. Having had huge success in 2008 with their debut album, recent reviews of the band’s latest releases have met mixed critical opinions.

This was also to be my first experience of Castlefield Bowl and I was pleasantly surprised with what the venue had to offer. Once inside it was almost like stepping through the opening gates of a festival – girls with flowers in their hair and flowing garments gave the venue a relaxed and carefree vibe. The Manchester city skyline juxtaposed this atmosphere perfectly and rather than the usual festival settings of open green fields the landscape framed the stage with towering cranes and railway bridges.

Turner made his entrance in a bright teal suit that echoed the larger than life performance he gave. The singer certainly made his presence known but at points throughout the gig his over-dramatic gyrating could be compared to a washed-up Elvis impersonator in a cheesy hotel resort.

I couldn’t help but think that Turner, having such huge success with the Arctic Monkeys, had used this side project to truly unleash the egomania. Did this take away from the performance? I don’t believe so – after all some of the best male performers on the indie music scene are best known for their charismatic stage presence. Meanwhile, Kane took a back seat in the performance, providing an escape from Turner’s strutting.

Putting aside these aspects, the band performed extremely well – the title track of their first album The Age of the Understatement was met with roars of excitement and brought all audience members previously sitting to their feet to give their all for the duration of the track. The band followed up with the equally popular Bad Habits, which also saw a tidal wave of arms thrown into the air along with beer, jackets and all manners of loose articles.

Toning down the atmosphere the supporting quartet gave an outstanding performance that added depth to the slow sultry songs from the new album, Everything You’ve Come to Expect, and provided the audience a chance to stretch their vocal chords and sing along.

Could the Puppets be described as pretentious? From the show they gave on Sunday, almost certainly, but musically the pair felt inventive and dynamic together. The band seems to be under scrutiny at the moment but from the crowd’s enthusiasm you would never have guessed it.

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