So after postponing their performance for a couple of weeks due to Alex Turner’s laryngitis, and months and months of anticipation, Arctic Monkeys came back to their home county and performed in Sheffield last night. And boy, was it worth the wait. Now, I’m a huge fan, and I knew I was going to enjoy it (I’m going to try not to turn this into an NME style review where the band are treated as demi-Gods, but I can’t promise anything), but both the fantastically funky performance and incredible atmosphere exceeded all expectations. I’ve been listening to their new album AM on repeat pretty much since it came out, and every time it gets better and better. Turner’s lyrical talent is still as poetic, humorous and genuine as ever, still maintaining the bashful self-consciousness of their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, years on. Combine that with the American Rock ‘n’ Roll influence of Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme and it’s bound to be a recipe for some great sounds. They’ve moved to LA, acquired model girlfriends and slicked up their image, but the Sheffield boys are definitely still Yorkshire at heart, which they proved last night at the Motorpoint Arena.
An arctic wave swept over Sheffield, and the crowds swarmed from all over the city (and the county – we travelled from York) to get on their Dancing Shoes and party with the High Green boys. They swaggered on stage to Beatlemania-esque screams and soon the thumping drums of their Do I Wanna Know? filled the full to capacity stadium and made the crowd shake.
They then thundered into the intro of Brianstorm, and it felt like the whole of Sheffield may have heard, with the 13,600 strong crowd going bananas. They then went on to play a song from each of their first four albums (Dancing Shoes, Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair, Teddy Picker and Crying Lightening) – reminding us all of their developing style and brilliance, which has spanned over years (including most of my adolescence) – before returning to AM with the mesmerising Fireside. An unexpected mid-set highlight for me was Old Yellow Bricks, a song I frequently forget about, but when the arena filled with pulsating golden light a little bit of magic happened. We were then treated to Arabella and her ‘70’s head’, the Pretty Visitors (who ‘came and waved their arms, and cast the shadow of a snakepit on the wall’) and a blasting rendition of I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – just to remind us of where it all started.
We were then given a slight breather, and a chance to stop jumping up and down and let Turner serenade us like only he knows how. Cornerstone, No. 1 Party Anthem and Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High were next, before the energy was reignited with the classic and oh-so-familiar opening riff of Flourescent Adolescent. The set then drew to a close with Do Me A Favour and I Wanna Be Yours. Confetti and glitter rained down on us and sadly, the end was nigh.
We didn’t have much time to predict what the boys would play for their inevitable encore, before Beatlemania was back and Alex, Jamie, Nick and Matt returned to the sounds of Snap Out of It and a semi-acoustic version of the anthem that is Mardy Bum. They finished the 22 song set with R U Mine, again from their new album. Usually ending a gig on a classic would be my preferred option, but this seemed a fitting end to a gig that had managed to effortlessly combine the old with the new.
The last time I saw the Arctics was just after they had just released Humbug (their third album), and they played mostly songs from their new album, which was still unfamiliar and not quite as catchy. A good chunk of yesterday’s set was fresh, new material, yet the whole crowd could scream it all word for word back at Alex and the boys throughout.
I want to find fault, to make this a more balanced and impartial review, I really do, but this was truly a gig I didn’t ever want to end. So ‘Who the Fuck are Arctic Monkeys’? Possibly one of the greatest (and last) Rock ‘n’ Roll bands of our generation. Well played boys.