After the sluggish sales and generally indifferent response to 2009's 'Humbug', you could be forgiven for thinking Arctic Monkeys fortunes were on the wane, creatively and commercially. Two colossal hometown gigs and the none-too-shabby ‘Suck it and See’ album,,however, has seen their stock rise again. While most of their contemporaries languish in third album oblivion and public indifference, the Arctics forge ahead, untroubled by the vagaries of fashion.

The riffmungous ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’, kicks off proceedings, played at murderous ultra-volume, which persists for all of the set. With the recent album understandably supplying the lion’s share of the material, the set list scans the band’s back catalogue thoroughly, the group having no truck with interspersing the hits alongside newer material.

Still remarkably young for a band of their size, despite their arena filling credentials, to the group’s immense credit it is easy to imagine them playing venues a tenth of the size due to the energy levels on display.

Alex Turner, replete with expertly sculpted teddy-boy hairdo, reminiscent of a young George Harrison, easily carries the audience’s attention in consummately relaxed style throughout. The relatively no-frills performance style is echoed in the stage design, which aside from a few video screens and the occasional splutter of dry ice is bare save for their amps.

That doesn’t mean the front man isn’t above displays of showmanship however, clambering onto the drum riser to launch himself off in time with the opening chord of a predictably riotous ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’. Played with the same white knuckle glee as it was six years ago, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to describe the song as the nearest thing to the Who’s 'My Generation' created by a British band over the past decade.

In addition to Turner’s charismatic turn is sticksman Matt Helders, whose impeccably well-drilled beats power the songs forward relentlessly. Under seizure inducing lights, ‘Brainstorm’ is dispatched surprisingly early on, ratcheting up the song’s tension, resulting in an even tighter performance than on record.

New track, B-side ‘Evil Twin’ sounds far too good to be dumped on the near-extinct format, while ‘Whatever People Say…’ gem ‘The View from the Afternoon’ still sounds like it came out of the rehearsal room yesterday. The Helders’ sang ‘Brick by Brick' with its Beatles’ harmonies and blue-rock breakdown meanwhile has extra weight live than on record, while the twilight pop of ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalala’ sparkles brilliantly.

A double hit of gilt-edged crowd pleasers ‘Florescent Adolescent’ and ‘When the Sun Goes Down’, busked solo by Turner before exploding into life rounds out the main set in explosive fashion. A stripped-down version of old standard ‘Mardy Bum’, played Billy Bragg style is sung word for word by the crowd before the conclusion, the now traditional closer, ‘505.’

After almost ninety minutes the quartet depart to thunderous applause, proof positive that fame has only served to sharpen the band’s live skills not diminish them. Whenever Turner decides to have his hair cut short, it hopefully won’t lead to a Samson-like loss of his songwriting abilities, which on current form are near the peak of their formidable powers.


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Marie Hazelwood for Pennyblackmusic.

















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