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Band's spirited set lives up to the hype

Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.

Britain's Arctic Monkeys took the stage at the Paradise Thursday night in a jangle of high expectations. Their truculent, jagged music -- imagine Franz Ferdinand being chased down the street by the Jam -- has turned their homeland upside down: They have already had two number one songs, and their first full-length CD, ''Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not," was released earlier this year to become the UK's fastest-selling debut album of all time. Hype has become half the story.

Plenty of room to fall on their faces, then, on their first long US tour.

But head Monkey Alex Turner, 20 years old and already a poet of anti-climax, has seen all this coming. He won't be impressed, and he can't be rattled. The dramas of the letdown, of foiled adrenalin and the thwarted buzz, are meat and drink to him. Raised fists in late-night taxi queues and bad party conversations form the substance of his songs -- no eye is quite so jaundiced as a youthful one. Then again you can't escape vitality and post-adolescent biological ''esprit."

''Anticipation has the habit to set you up / For disappointment in evening entertainment but / Tonight there'll be some love," he sings in ''A View From the Afternoon." ''Tonight there'll be a ruckus, yeah, regardless of what's gone before." It was their opening number Thursday night, performed with a sullen, acne'd fierceness, and after that they couldn't go wrong.

''This is another song we wrote long, long ago . . . in a far-off land," muttered Turner later in the set. Things have changed for him in the last year or so, no doubt about that. But he can handle it. With the hood of his sweatshirt raised and the glint of mischief in his thrill-dilated eyes, he had the air of a larcenous pixie. To his left was the large and superbly unengaged bassist Andy Nicholson. To his right stood rosy-cheek rhythm guitarist Jamie Cook, hacking out Gang of Four-style chords as if he were doing his homework. And behind, the drummer who looks 14 years old.

Turner has one particular and quite alarming move, which involves standing at the lip of the stage and jerking his guitar about in a sequence of stiff, robotic shocks. The front rows shudder in galvanized sympathy when he does this. ''Get on your dancing shoes/ You sexy little swine!" he demanded. It seemed churlish not to oblige.

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