Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Arctic Monkeys, Earl’s Court

I have always asked my Dad why he never went to see the Beatles. They are his favourite band, and always have been. Their music came to stand for his entire generation. It is everlasting. He told me that he simply didn’t get the opportunity to go, and I remember thinking I don’t want to tell my children that. I wanted to be able to tell them that I stood in the crowd and watched the band that came to symbolise my generation, that I saw them live and soaked up every moment and danced and got crushed in the crowd and breathed the same air. To be able to say 'I was there,' I suppose.

Now obviously, I can’t predict the future. But I think the Arctic Monkeys are that band.

Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner

This is actually my fifth time seeing the Arctic Monkeys. I stood in the front row at Reading 2009, and had bruises shaped like the barrier imprinted on my rib cage for weeks. I paid over the odds to sit at the back of Wembley Arena in December 2010 and peered the stage through an inexplicable and irritating fog. I squeezed into a crowd at the O2 in October 2011, and just two days later I dragged my boyfriend into a mosh pit at the Cardiff Arena. It doesn’t matter how often I see them – I just never get tired of it.

Last Friday as I arrived at Earl's Court, I wasn't quite in the right mood. I’d been to see Jake Bugg the night before. I was tired and hungover and my feet hurt. I stood through the (average) support act, wincing slightly at the loudness blaring through the speakers, sipping at watery vodka diet coke and kind of wishing I was sitting on my sofa at home with a book. But then the lights went dark and the crowd came alive and Alex Turner walked onto the stage, and my mood completely changed. 

I have literally never known a performer be that electric. I don’t mean to swoon like a thirteen year old girl, or use clichés like ‘lights up the stage’, but I’m not sure how else to describe it. There is something Elvis Presley- like in Turner’s movements (it can’t just be the quiff, as he so modestly suggests) -  in the way he tilts his head, rests one foot on the amp – looks at the audience in a silent and mutual acknowledgement that he really is that good and there isn't much point in denying it.

Opening with recent single Do I Wanna Know before launching into a string of their best known songs, the Arctic Monkeys seem to have finally grasped the importance of a well-ordered set list. If I’ve ever had a criticism in the past, it’s their almost Dylan-like insistence of playing exactly what they like, when they like. I appreciate the musical integrity of this, but if you’re headlining Reading, for example, it’s probably not ideal to open with a new single that nobody has heard of yet – and it’s frankly absurd to follow that up with a little-known B-side. Four years later, Turner has learned to strike a perfect balance, playing songs across all five albums in an order that meant no one lost interest. There was plenty of appealing to the majority – I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor, Mardy Bum, Fluorescent Adolescent and Brianstorm were all there, with only When The Sun Goes Down conspicuous by its absence (not a great loss – in my opinion, it’s one of their weaker songs). But there were moments for the fans too – Dancing Shoes, for example, which I haven’t heard them play before, as well as Pretty Visitors and Reckless Serenade for die-hard third and fourth album fans respectively.

New songs were sprinkled carefully throughout the setlist, with Turner modestly asking the audience ‘Do you like the new album, then?’ Perhaps only ‘Fireside’ fell a little flat, but in general the heady mix of Turner’s brilliant and fast moving lyrics with the new electric feel created some of the best moments of the night. The slow-moving, seductive Number One Party Anthem was the perfect follow up to emotional masterpiece Cornerstone, with Turner beckoning an eager crowd towards him in a way which managed to make the cavernous Earl’s Court feel like an intimate 100 person gig. The encore opened with Snap Out Of It, a grown up pop song with a kick, and closed with RU Mine, Turner’s new-age love song which left most of the audience feeling that yes, we are all his.

It’s easy to deride the Arctic Monkeys because they are so popular and because their gigs are rowdy and full of people throwing beer (at least I hope it was beer) and shouting for Turner to play Mardy Bum. Because their music began in a time when there were lots of indie rock bands, so maybe at that point their genuine talent for creating original material was clouded, and people took them for the new Oasis - an accolade that Turner has done absolutely within his power to avoid. And so since then they’ve done exactly what the Beatles did before them – make new albums turning in different musical directions, not always popular, not always what the fans are demanding, but always something new. I think their new album might be one of their best, and how many bands can say that of their fifth album? Not only that – they are a real live band, a band whose songs come alive through their hopelessly cool leading man with an audience in front of them, shouting the words back.

So I truly believe that one day I will tell my future children about that time I saw the Arctic Monkeys perform AM and they will be impressed. I just hope I can tell them about many more occasions after that too!


  1. Awewsome concert.

  2. Envy youuuu! I love Arctic Monkeys!!!
    Xxx doll


  3. Not a big fan of them, and I saw them at Reading a few years ago and they were pretty lacklustre, but it looks/sounds like a great gig.

    Hmm maybe...

  4. Oh dear throwing beer! Haha, I think everything would of been fun except that part. But I'm glad you had a grate time.

    -B ♡ MsBerryStylish 

  5. ah it sounds amazing, i'm going to see them tommorow! so excited! xo

  6. I wish i got to seem them perform, they are such an amazing band! My friends went to Earl's Court and they agreed with you that it was incredible. I will hopefully get a chance to see them soon.

    Happy Halloween



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