Live Review

Arctic Monkeys, Earls Court, London

Magnificent. Big, bold, confident.

‘We’re going on a journey, come with me London,’

implores Alex Turner surveying the crowd at the start of the Arctic Monkeys’ Saturday night show at Earls Court. And they seem ready to do whatever he says. Yet halfway through ‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I Moved Your Chair’ the song is suddenly cut short because the crowd’s over exuberance means people are being crushed at the front. Alex’s appeals to the crowd in his dulcet tones. ‘Take a step back guys. When I said come with me I meant it figuratively.’

Tonight he has them in the palm of his hand right from the moment they start with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’. Its muscular backing beat taking the crowd in its arms and whisking it away from the gloom outside. And the crowd are ready to go. Looking down from the seats you can see circles of mosh pits throughout the crowd, rippling waves of people smashing against each other.

The band enter to flashing lights and suspense, a massive A and M lit large behind them. This is not the T-shirt wearing scamps from Sheffield who made ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’. Tonight Alex is dressed in a tuxedo jacket and keeps running his hand through his perfectly coiffed quiff (you could conceivably write a whole review on the architecture of his hair). He swaggers and prances across the stage – he very nearly Dad dances – while the rest of the band pound out the tunes behind him, Matt Helders offering falsetto backing vocals. The only hint back to those days is the 0114 on Helders’ drum kit – Sheffield’s dialling code and a reminder of more innocent times.

It means tracks like ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ seem faintly strange – these are men performing them not boys. But they sound magnificent. Big, bold, confident.

And that comes through on every song. The set is a fine mixture of every one of their records but tonight ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ reveals itself as a very real contender for their best album. ‘Brianstorm’ is blasted out early, backlit by a sea of red light while ‘Teddy Picker’ bounces around the walls of the arena and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ is showstopping. It’s ‘Old Yellow Bricks’ which may be the biggest surprise – it’s an irresistible gallop and the Knight Rider sounding guitar solo only adds to the spectacle.

The LA via Sheffield new album provides the grooves. ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ and ‘One For The Road’ mix falsetto and proto-funk while ‘R U Mine?’ provides a rousing, rumbling finish. It’s their take on John Cooper Clarke’s ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ which is the spellbinding moment, as Turner pleas for love in the most poignant terms as glitter cannons explode all around us. It’s a beautiful moment.

That most of the songs tonight pound and pulsate so vociferously means some of the subtleties of their Beatles-esque ballads are nearly lost. The silver lining to this is that on an almost acoustic version of Mardy Bum emotions are felt even more keenly. ‘Remember cuddles in the kitchen / Yeah, to get things off the ground / And it was up, up and away’ Turner sings and it’s echoed back, arms aloft from the crowd. Even if Earls Court is demolished tomorrow that heartwarming feeling will still be reverberating around the rubble.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY