sat 25/05/2024

Arctic Monkeys, Arsenal Emirates Stadium review - the masters of indie pop excel | reviews, news & interviews

Arctic Monkeys, Arsenal Emirates Stadium review - the masters of indie pop excel

Arctic Monkeys, Arsenal Emirates Stadium review - the masters of indie pop excel

Masterful musicianship, sexy moves and banging tunes

Amelie Myrnd

“I hope they do Mardy Bum,” a small boy squeaks longingly to his mother. She was probably his age when Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I’m Not came out almost two decades ago. This is very much a multi-generational affair incorporating those of us who were too old to like them when they started, their peers now also in their mid-30s, and lots and lots of kids.

The transformation from lovable spotty teenagers to be-quiffed rockers and on to cuban-heel-and-aviator-sporting Lotharios is still quite remarkable despite the fact we’ve all changed beyond belief in those years.

What’s especially striking is the vast sweep of their oeuvre, not only in terms of musical style but in vision, hopes and dreams. From the perfectly parochial passion of the first album, where the limit of their horizons was seeing a future bride on the dance floor, through to the lunar meanderings of Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, these last 20 years have changed everything. In the case of the Arctic Monkeys, largely for the good – but that depends on your view on strutting and crotch-thrusting.

The thundering maelstrom that is “Brianstorm” starts us off, followed by bouncy crowd-pleaser “Snap Out of It”. More of the early stuff comes in quick succession (don’t expect much chat from Turner who, despite the supremely confident air, still prefers the music to do the talking) – “Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”, the wonderful “Crying Lightening”, “Teddy Picker”, “The View From the Afternoon”. There will be no disappointment in this evening’s entertainment, obvs. There are a few bum notes but largely this is a slick set performed by hugely accomplished musicians who need no support from pyrotechnics, special effects and dancers (Harry Styles’ fans, recently expunged from Wembley onto the same trains, provided some cultural contrast). A dramatic performance of “Cornerstone” has the iPhone "lighters" sparkling around the stadium just as the sun goes down (which would’ve been a welcome addition to the set). 

The sound quality, sadly, isn’t the best – it’s hard to hear what Turner’s saying when he does bother, and there’s very little definition between instruments. It’s fine because we all know every song inside out, backwards and forwards but there’s little subtlety in what’s blasting out – not because of the playing but the acoustics. But why does that matter when you can sing at the top of your voice with 50,000 others who share the love? Goosebumps upon goosebumps. 

This tour is supposedly to support the release of The Car but features only three songs from the album. Which is a great shame. This is more a greatest hits show but such is their scope that they barely touch the sides of their impressive catalogue. One-and-a-half-hours flashes by and the audience clearly want more but the Emirates’ plug is very time-sensitive (and you have to feel for the inhabitants of the tower block behind the north end).

It’s clear that they’re getting towards the end of a lengthy tour. Alex Turner appears to be trying to amuse himself by catching the audience out with mis-timings and pregnant pauses. The up-tempo reworking of tearjerker “505” is dubious, but “Do I Wanna Know”, “Fluorescent Adolescent”, and “Arabella” are all knocked out of the park. It was puzzling to see people largely uninterested by the marvel that is “Mirrorball”, liking “Perfect Sense” more and – thankfully – rallying fully for “Body Paint”, which with its extended outro became an epic of eight minutes.

A small break gives everyone time to catch their breath. Then it’s John Cooper Clark’s “I Wanna Be Yours” before a white-hot rendition of “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” which I hope saw the parents grab onto their little ones – the moshing extended far beyond the pit. Closing with the anthem “R U Mine?”, this show proved perfectly balanced and was richly rewarded by an ecstatic crowd. And yes, the long-neglected “Mardy Bum” made its appearance and, with all its innocent charm – those teenage romantic hopes and dreams as fresh as a daisy – which made everyone as happy as that little lad. 

What’s especially striking is the vast sweep of their oeuvre, not only in terms of musical style but in vision, hopes and dreams


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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