Arctic Monkeys // FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield // 21.9.18
“This is a song from 2004”, Alex Turner teases a raucous crowd. “It meant very little to us then and it means even less to us now.” What he says at this point no longer matters, as High Green’s Arctic Monkeys rip in to ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ the crowd surges forward, losing all inhibition. Hot off a Mercury Award nomination, in their penultimate homecoming show at Sheffield’s FlyDSA Arena, Turner and co prove that they are going nowhere anytime soon, serving up the perfect set of all-time favourites and material from their most recent, sci-fi inspired album, Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino.
The set opens with a recital from performance poet John Cooper Clarke, the brain behind the lyrics to AM love song, ‘I Wanna Be Yours.’ He credits his “favourite band” for taking his poems worldwide in a heartfelt introduction. The Monkeys then take to the stage, easing the crowd in with ‘Star Treatment,’ a dreamy tune where the piano, as in the majority of the new material, takes the lead. By this point the anticipation has reached breaking point, and the crowd need more. ‘Brianstorm’ provides exactly this, as drummer Matt Helders serves up the perfect opportunity for the audience to let loose. Other highlights come from songs ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’, a rarity on the bands set lists, and ‘Pretty Visitors’, both sending the fans into an utter frenzy.
It isn’t just the mosh-pit tracks that define the live show. The slower songs offer moments of calm amongst the madness. ‘Cornerstone’ and ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ provide time to belt out the lyrics and enjoy that feeling of a whole arena coming together. We are treated to a version of ‘Mardy Bum’, Turner’s voice accompanied by a simple drum loop backing track.
The encore consists of ‘One for the Road,’ ‘Dancefloor,’ and staple set-closer ‘R U Mine?’. The latter is the perfect way to end, and with the way the crowd responds, eating out of the palm of Turner’s hand, the answer is pretty clear. With the prolonged outro every extra moment feels like a gift that keeps on giving. The entire set is the perfectly curated combination of old and new and, unlike other bands who’s setlists appear to remain the same tour after tour, this show was full of surprises.
What really makes the show is Turner’s stage presence. With each era that the Arctic Monkeys pass through the enigmatic frontman appears to take on a new persona. With AM, Turner channelled his inner Elvis, now he plays the role of a sleazy lounge singer in his hotel on the moon. He totally commits to his character, eyeing up the audience as he swoons over space. Turner knows exactly how to push the crowd’s buttons, making them wait for the big moments, such as the prolonged ‘The Jam of Boston’ intro into album title track, ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino.’ From the introduction by John Cooper Clarke to the extended outro of ‘R U Mine?,’ the pace of the show is immaculate, leaving the 13,500 strong crowd satisfied, but still hungry for more. Wherever it may be that the Arctic Monkeys are headed for in the future, it is clear that their success will continue to skyrocket.