To mark the release of Arctic Monkeys’ hotly anticipated fifth album AM, the boys took to the stage at the much loved Roundhouse as part of the free iTunes Festival.
Forming way back in 2002 in Sheffield, the band has gone from strength to strength. The release of AM represents the band’s development into a darker and more mature sound, acting almost as the antithesis to their brash beginnings of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. They finish off this year’s festival scene with a set at iTunes Festival, after performing headline slots at Glastonbury as well as other festivals all over the world.
The time has come for me to dust off that old cliché and say there are literally not enough words to describe the brilliance of Arctic Monkeys’ set at the Roundhouse. Arctic Monkeys performed a set that perfectly merged together the old and the new, and the venue couldn’t have been venue; I have always had a soft spot for Roundhouse as it is intimate without feeling claustrophobic.
As a two man band, support band Drenge must be commended for their bravery. Despite their best efforts I found myself just willing them to stop. Their set was brash and messy and felt like I was intruding on an angst-filled teenage band practice in a dingy garage. I’m afraid with Drenge I just do not get the hype and they seemed an odd choice as the support act.
Arctic Monkeys opened their set with a tantalisingly long intro to their recent single ‘Do I Wanna Know’. Channeling his new Elvis inspired look, Alex Turner effortlessly smouldered his way through the opening track before immediately breaking into an energetic rendition of ‘Brianstorm’. Admittedly a bold and perhaps rather churlish choice of track to follow the sultry sounds of ‘Do I Wanna Know’ as the tracks are polar opposites. The change in pace between the two tracks was a sure statement that marked just how far the band has come and matured throughout the years. The crowd did not complain and met the sudden change with delight, immediately breaking into a frenzy.
Other old classics played were the beloved ‘Dancing Shoes’ (introduced in the traditional fashion of ‘Do you think now might be a good time to get on your dancing shoes’) ‘Teddy Picker’ and of course they couldn’t miss out ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’. In the spirit of this, Turner shared with the crowd perhaps the best piece of advice I have ever received, instructing ‘when waving your hands in the air, its important not to forget about your hip movements.’ Sound advice that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
Arctic Monkeys were also joined by special guest Miles Kane for their encore performance of ‘505’. A little part of me hoped they would play a track from their The Last Shadow Puppets days for old times sake, even so Miles Kane was a welcome edition to their spectacular show.
Alex Turner played the part of front man perfectly (despite a brief lapse in memory during ‘505’ when he confessed ‘I can’t remember the fucking words’), and his voice did not even come close to faltering, although it was a shame that the rest of the band didn’t participate in any form of crowd interaction; it really was the Alex Turner show. The only problem with the iTunes Festival is that it is completely pot luck as to what sort of crowd is going to be there. It was clear that not everyone in the crowd was a genuine fan, which was a shame.
If Arctic Monkeys’ set was anything to go by, their October tour should not disappoint. I was grateful for the intimate setting of Roundhouse but Arctic Monkeys are in their element when performing in larger venues.
Don’t forget, their set is available to stream on iTunes, as are all of the acts performing at this year’s iTunes festival.