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Monday, May 21, 2018
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Older, wiser Arctic Monkeys set for sold-out St. Pete show

Some philosophers believe that a healthy human being morphs dramatically every seven years. If that’s so, Alex Turner is in robust shape. When the Arctic Monkeys emerged from Britain as its latest next big thing in 2006, Turner had all of the stage presence of an avocado.

But it didn’t matter. The Arctic Monkeys were touring behind a brilliant debut album, “Whatever People Say, That’s What I’m Not.” The British band went from Internet sensation to the biggest act in the United Kingdom. The band lived up to the hype by delivering incendiary raveups such as “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” “Fake Tales of San Francisco” and “The View From The Afternoon.”

While greeting tastemakers at Austin’s South By Southwest eight-years ago, the Arctic Monkeys delivered their visceral tunes while standing mannequin straight. Turner looked like a Bill Belichick acolyte under a hoodie, which hid his brooding face. He belted out songs with lips seeming to move as much as a ventriloquist.

But like all great bands, the Arctic Monkeys, who perform Saturday at Jannus Live, have evolved. While performing in front of 4,000 fans in Philadelphia’s spacious Fairmount Park last autumn, just one track was rendered from its debut album, “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” which has been covered by Tom Jones.

The lion’s share of the set list is comprised of cuts from the band’s latest album, “AM.” The band’s fourth album, and best since its initial release, includes guitar power, touches of glam and deep rhythms and grooves. The lyrics are once again gleaned from personal experience.

“Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” and “One For The Road” sound as if Turner is taking excerpts from his diary.

And then there is Turner, who has grown considerably as a performer. He has scrapped the hoodie and he sports a pompadour. He actually works the crowd these days.

“You would hope that you would grow,” Turner said. “You can’t be the same person you were when you started. At least I hope you wouldn’t be that same person.”

“Do I Wanna Know’ is the band’s first single to top the U.S. independent chart. The band keeps taking steps. But it’s not all about fame, which is what the band was clearly uncomfortable with in 2006.

“We just want to get better as musicians,” Turner said. “The other stuff isn’t so important.”

Turner and his band, which also includes guitarist Jamie Cook, bassist Nick O’Malley and drummer Matt Helders, have grown considerably since they were a bunch of quiet kids, barely 20 when their debut dropped, with mussed hair, who were less than animated onstage. The new songs are deeper and filled with lyrics that range from urgent to tender.

“You learn a lot as you go in this business,” Turner said. “I expect us to continue learning and developing.”

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