"That rock’n’roll, eh? That rock’n’roll, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time, sink back into the swamp. I think the cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists demands that acquiesce to some of its rules, but it’s always waiting there, just around the corner ready to make its way back through the sludge and smash through the glass ceiling, looking better than ever. Yeah, that rock’n’roll, it seems like its faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it."
Alex Turner, Brit Awards Best British Album Acceptance Speech, 19th February 2014
It’s a topic of discussion older than Mick Jagger’s underwear drawer, “is rock ‘n’ roll dead?” Not according to Alex Turner, he of Arctic Monkeys’ fame. The bequiffed frontman uttered the words all of us guitar loving fiends were thinking, well, almost. In an eloquent and articulate demeanour, in ways we could only dream of, Turner took the opportunity whilst receiving the Brit Award for Best British Album, to declare that although rock ‘n’ roll may not be top of everyone’s playlists, it’s still there, waiting patiently, refusing to die, energising itself ready for the next assault on the charts and music fans alike.
A week after the event, the debate is still raging – in the blue corner, the naysayers claiming Turner’s speech was arrogant and performed by the singer’s empty posturing. In the red corner, rock music’s devotees, the riff merchants that proclaimed the speech a ‘call to arms’, a rallying cry to all those who love their music jam packed with danger, swagger and a little touch of sophistication. The dialogue upon Turner used to proclaim rock ‘n’ roll a still relevant art form is what has garnered the arrogant tag. Just look at those long words and enigmatic delivery, no wonder a cross section of society is jeering with disdain, Turner should have just grunted “totes amazeballs” and be done with it. The ubiquitous state of monosyllabic moron culture has no place for the Yorkshireman’s expressive tongue, making his speech even more vital. Plus, how dare the frontman portray himself as a dapper, refined young man, what was he thinking? The fucking sheer cheek of it! Let’s face it, from Arctic Monkeys’ early days of being lads in tracksuit tops to ten years down the line, in smart suits and perfect hair, they look the archetypal rock ‘n’ roll gentlemen – a little suave and a little dangerous. Arctic Monkeys 2014 are cooler than a polar bear’s popsicle.
One thing that caught our attention, other than the whole speech uttered by a man with the silverest tongue this side of slick-town, was the mention of “smashing through the glass ceiling”. Suffice to say, there are enough guitar slingers around more than capable of pushing rock music back into the stratosphere but it’s that special group, some new blood to reinvigorate the masses, to turn their ears to guitars rather than pre-packaged pop or ham-fisted dance music that we are waiting for. Years ago the saviours came as diverse as Nirvana, Oasis, The Strokes and indeed, Arctic Monkeys’ to propel guitar music back into the public consciousness. Over the years, there’s been a wealth of promising acts, The Vaccines, Palma Violets, Deap Vally and The Family Rain that hinted at storming the gates of tedious popular music. Equally, established bands have seen an important resurgence; Queens of the Stone Age, Biffy Clyro, Muse and Kings of Leon are all maintaining their positions at the summits of festivals across the globe while shifting some serious units. But, nevertheless, it’s the surprise package, that burst of pent up energy that translates into a renaissance moment, a new breed of noise maker to latch onto Turner’s inspirational words and fill the void waiting for the next Nirvana or Oasis.
Akin to the scene in Jurassic Park, when the Tyrannous Rex makes its first, devastating appearance, there’s a ground quake, it’s evident something is coming – a band to demolish that ‘glass ceiling’. If we were pushed for name, we’d pin our hopes on Brighton noiseniks, Royal Blood. The furore around Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher’s thrilling brand of rock music has been as surprising as it has been refreshing. The duo have garnered praise from everyone including Zane Lowe, DIY, NME and your very own grandmother – she bloody loves them. Although the racket they produce is punishing and earsplittingly loud, it’s too difficult to avoid that there’s something special about the music the pair create. As if to hand the baton on, Arctic Monkeys have gifted a support slot to the seaside dwellers when the Sheffield lot play their enormous shows at London’s Finsbury Park and Marlay Park in Dublin. Where hype and expectation is concerned, the levels around Royal Blood at the moment are of epidemic proportions, let’s hope they’re given the attention the duly deserve.
So, there you have it – we’re in the red corner, Turner’s speech stirred a fire in our belly that has been roaring for some time. We’ll leave it to the master himself to sign off – “Yeah, that rock’n’roll, it seems like it’s faded away sometimes, but it will never die. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”