Arctic Monkeys have come a long way since storming the charts with ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ in 2006 and that’s never been more evident than it was at last night’s Finsbury Park concert.
When ‘AM’ was released last September, a fact many Arctic Monkeys fans knew already was confirmed. The band - specifically frontman Alex Turner - have developed and evolved into fully-fledged rockstars and the days of gawkily murmuring awkward banter between songs are long gone. The Alex who wrote ‘Riot Van’ and ‘The View From The Afternoon’ has been replaced by one who confidently tells the crowd he “wants to do something for the girls” before launching into ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’.
For Arctic Monkeys, drafting a setlist which reflects their transition from mardy Sheffield lads to smooth-talking, leather jacket-clad rockstars isn’t too difficult. However having such a celebrated back catalogue can be both a blessing and a curse.
Alex Turner at Finsbury Park
They begun their set with three tracks from ‘AM’, smashing through 'Do I Wanna Know?' and 'Snap Out Of It' followed by 'Arabella', before swiftly launching into an energetic rendition of ‘Brianstorm’, which triggers the first real shrieks from the audience. While material from ‘AM’ is a hit - aided by the fact they confidently opened with a trio of ‘AM’ tracks - it’s impossible to deny that the older songs provide the evening’s highlights.
‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’, ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘She’s Thunderstorms’ demonstrate the multiple winning approaches Arctic Monkeys have tested over the years, however the sheer volume of stonkingly great live tracks in their back catalogue means that there will always be at least one song you’re left wishing they’d played. Hence why the decision to omit ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ is one that made hearts in Finsbury sink more than just a little. Likewise for the heart-wrenchingly fantastic version of ‘Mardy Bum’ played at Glastonbury, which appears to have been a one-off experiment we won’t get to hear live again.
‘Crying Lightning’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ and ‘Number One Party Anthem’ see Alex confidently switch between tales of flirtation and romance to accounts of failed booty calls before ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ inspires the loudest cheers and boldest dance moves of the night.
‘Flourescent Adolescent’ and ‘505’ - which Miles Kane bizarrely decided to sit out - bring the main chunk of their set to a close, somewhat satisfying the cries for more older material, though not quite compensating for the omission of ‘When The Sun Goes Down’.
Any niggling feelings of disappointment soon wash away though when Alex begins the encore with a solo acoustic performance of ‘A Certain Romance’ - a move he certainly wouldn’t have been bold enough to make five years ago - before his bandmates emerge again to close the set with ‘One For The Road’, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ and ‘R U Mine?’.
While Finsbury Park shows have become key details in the stories of bands including The Stone Roses and Rage Against The Machine, the same won’t be said for Arctic Monkeys. Nobody will ever ask if you saw the band at these two London gigs however that needn’t be seen as a criticism. Not every concert can be a seminal moment in a band’s history - and it’s not like Arctic Monkeys have a shortage of those anyway.
'Do I Wanna Know?'
'Snap Out Of It'
'Don't Sit Down Cause I've Moved Your Chair'
'Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High'
'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'
'Number One Party Anthem'
'A Certain Romance'
'One For The Road'
'I Wanna Be Yours'
'R U Mine?'