Hot off the release of their new number one album, AM, Arctic Monkeys returned to the UK for a sell-out arena tour following a triumphant headline slot at Glastonbury Festival as well as their biggest US tour to date.
The Sheffield four piece released fifth album AM on September 9th and it instantly shot to number one in the album charts, their fifth consecutive number one record to date. The first single from the album ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ was one of the biggest hits of the summer and has won a Q award for ‘Best track’. Along with a GQ award for ‘Best Band’ as well as a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, Arctic Monkeys are enjoying their most successful period to date and don’t look set to slow down at any time soon.
The venue for their London leg of this tour was Earls court, a twenty-thousand capacity exhibition centre where iconic bands such as The Rolling Stones and Queen have performed. Despite the size of the venue, the band needed to announce an extra night in London to accommodate more of their fans. The popularity of these shows was clear upon arrival at Earls Court with thousands of people crammed in the queue for doors entry at 6pm and hundreds desperately trying to source a spare ticket from touts in front of the arena.
Support for this show came from Northern Irish rock n roll band, The Strypes, a four piece whose ages range from 16-18. The band have filled many successful slots at major festivals around the country this year, gathering a lot of fans on the way. “They have a knowledge of R&B and blues at 16 years of age that I have only amassed in my 65 years. They’re just like a breath of fresh air.” is how Sir Elton John described the band in a TV appearance on Chelsea Lately. The band have released an LP named Snapshot featuring their three singles as well as a cover of Bo Diddley song ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover’. Kicking off at 7:45 the band tore through an explosive fourteen song set, including ten tracks from the debut album as well as three other covers, showing how confident they are performing to a relatively large crowd at such an early stage in their career.
Arctic Monkeys took to the stage shortly after and oozed confidence, wearing their now trademark ‘uniform’ of suits and open chested shirts. Immediately the huge crowd was drawn in as the intro music swiftly led into an effortlessly cool performance of opener ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ With drummer Matt Helders’ stomp and clap rhythm pulsing through the arena during the whole song. Next came ‘Brianstorm’ which signalled the start of crazy crowd activity with massive mosh pits forming in front of the band during this ferociously energetic anthem. The band quickly tore through a selection from their impressive back catalogue before starting on songs from the new record. With the addition of former The Coral guitarist, Bill Ryder-Jones, ‘Fireside’ was played to an enthusiastic crowd who had already learnt the words from the relatively recent release.
The next big hitter was the band’s most recent single ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ which was performed differently to the recorded version, instead played in a different key and with a vocal intro featuring all but guitarist Jamie Cook. Following this was set-highlight ‘Arabella’ which also featured a snippet from Black Sabbath track ‘War Pigs’ – a song that heavily influenced the central riff in ‘Arabella’. Coupled with a face-melting guitar solo from extra member Tom Rowley, this song proved to be a fan favourite that once again the band had managed to make even more exciting in the live capacity.
The latter end of the main set was filled with fan favourites and ballads and ended with the closer of AM, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, which features the words of punk-poet John Cooper Clarke. This was a particular highlight of the set as the stage released stream of confetti and smoke while the band closed off an entirely sensational set with the slow chords of the song. This would have satisfied the whole crowd had it been the end of the whole show, but the band swiftly re-emerged for a short encore which included AM track ‘Snap Out Of It’ which fell slightly flat as it followed the epic performance of ‘I Wanna Be Yours’. However, frontman Turner pulled out their trump card for the penultimate song, playing old fan favourite ‘Mardy Bum’ as a slow, semi-acoustic ballad, again with the help of Bill Ryder-jones. The set ended with ‘R U Mine?’, the song that set the foundations for the whole of AM. Despite a slight slip up at the start by Turner, the song was a fantastic way to end a great show by a band on the top of their game.
This show was a great example of how the band has evolved since their beginnings in 2005 as huge classics such as ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ were left out in favour of new songs. Furthermore, the Elvis-style showmanship from Alex turner goes down a treat for every crowd they play to. This was a show from a band at the top of their game and we can only hope that their future albums and live shows maintain such a level of quality.