From the first time I laid eyes on the cover of Arctic Monkeys debut album, ‘Whatever People Say I Am That Is What I’m Not’, I have been eternally fascinated by the Sheffield lads, and their growth to monumental stardom. This was the first time I would witness them live in the flesh, after a couple unsuccessful attempts to get tickets on previous tours, and very nearly missing out this time round too. This to me, however, just proves their superiority and status as Britains biggest rock band.
Their latest record, despite its Mercury nomination, has received mixed reviews; it is their most ambitious, unique and complete album to date, but in places it does feel over produced and fairly dull. The more I listen to it, the more I love it, but I can understand why other die hard fans are bitter about the shift in style. However, here I was at the O2, scoffing a Five Guys and paying £11 for a couple bottles of Stella Artois; I will never forgive the venue for this, but I was seeing Arctic Monkeys - why should I care? And really I didn’t, the spectacle was mesmerising, with the band blending their bangers into the soothing grooves of their latest LP ‘Tranquility Based Hotel And Casino’. Alex Turner and Co strolled onto their shimmering stage, to the sound of screeching fans, and ‘Four Out OF Five’, the lead single from their latest album. From Turner’s first howl, the audience were hypnotised by the 50s staging, and glistening lighting; the overall aesthetic of the performance was well thought out, and backed up the creative shift the Monkeys have taken on their latest album. The glowing, trancy hexagon that beamed down on them at intervals really added to the set, and glimmered over the head of Matt Helders.
After an atmospheric entrance, Turner proceeded to screech ‘Ah go on then’, provoking mass ecstasy and the thunderous riff of ‘Brianstorm’; one of their most untouchable singles to date. Beer cups flew into the air like a flock of hungry seagulls; the crowd turned ballistic, all in unison, and whipped up a frenzy of moshing throughout the whole night. The hip shaking grooves of ‘Snap Out Of It’ and the relentless fuzz of ‘Crying Lightning’ followed, maintaining the energy from the band and the audience. They didn’t let the crowd rest, proceeding with more cuts from ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘505’ offered anthemic choruses, and were some of the most well received tunes of the gig.
The bands biggest success of the night was managing to mix the old and the new in such a succinct manner. Sandwhiching ‘One Point Perspective’ between ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Do Me A Favour’ worked incredibly well - and allowed Arctic Monkeys to showcase the journey they have been on the last 15 years within a 10 minute snippet of their set. My highlight of the gig had to be when ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair’ came on. It is one of the most underrated Monkeys songs, in my opinion, and was definitely the track I sang my heart out to the most - if you saw the instagram story we put up, I apologise for my dreadful vocals; they aren’t quite comparable to Alex Turners… yet.
It was a surprise to hear the band play ‘Pretty Visitors’, a tune that I adore, and I felt allowed them to release some built up aggression onto their instruments; Helders smashed his drum kit whilst Cook shredded his guitar to pieces. It was a treat to have such an unexpected penultimate tune, and the crowd still had ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, ‘Arabella’ and ‘R U Mine’ to look forward to.
They finished off the set with the infamous ‘R U Mine’, one of the rocker’s most visceral and classic tunes to date. The slick riff whirred around the venue, provoking a sea of head banging and crowd surfing down the front. Using their remaining energy, they captured the audience, teasing them with the tracks tantalising rhythms, which they extended into a longer version. The 4 piece incorporated another chorus, much to the annoyance of the fans who had left expecting the gig to end. However, we stayed, anticipating that this could happen and it was the perfect way to see off the show.
It is insane to think that Alex Turner and Co have maintained the success they have since rolling into the limelight back in the 20th century. But their O2 residency proves they deserve all the credit they have received since then; let’s just hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next record as we did this one.