Read our five-star review as the Sheffield icons dazzle the Bellahouston Park crowd following an online slaughtering.
To say Arctic Monkeys Friday night Glastonbury set divided opinion would be an understatement. With online criticisms surrounding their headline performance at the UK’s biggest festival still fresh in the mind, the Glaswegian crowd a couple of nights later would be forgiven for showing a little less enthusiasm than normal for when a large artist rolls into town.
Over the weekend, everyone from Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher to Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos were quick to throw shade in the Sheffield band's direction. Berated for their slowed-down style and Alex Turner’s changed vocal style during their performance, the general reaction on Twitter was that Arctic Monkeys were now boring, pompous sellouts who had strayed too far away from their humble garage rock roots. Yet the reception they’d receive on Sunday night from the 30,000-plus crowd at Bellahouston Park couldn’t have been different from the online narrative being set out in the wake of Glastonbury.
For those of us who consider ourselves original Arctic Monkeys fans who were there back in the day as the internet hype machine took off, it was noticeable just how young so many members of the crowd were. A large percentage didn’t look old enough to be alive when Arctic Monkeys hit number 1 in October 2005 with ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and it creates an eclectic dynamic. Young Fred Perry wearing teens and groups of lads in retro Scotland football shirts mix with the OG late-30s crowd, united in their love of one of Britain’s most celebrated bands this millennium. No judgement placed on those late to the party.
Surprisingly, the weather holds up. After an afternoon of typical heavy Scottish rain, the sun has come out to play just in time for the open of the doors in Glasgow’s south side. Which, of course, adds to the general air of positivity tonight.
The Mysterines provide an opening set packed with hard rock songs from last year’s debut Reeling. A solid performance without any sort of stage presence to blow anyone away. The Hives on the other hand are on fire - frontman Pelle Almqvist’s lively in-between song banter can’t help but win over any curious onlookers. And even without his showmanship, the Swedish indie band belt through early classics like ‘I Hate To Say I Told You So’, ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ with a heap of energy, before finishing on forgotten ‘00s belter ‘Tick Tick Boom’.
Which sets the crowd up nicely for Arctic Monkeys. Criticised for opening on a new song at Glastonbury, the Sheffield rockers prove they mean business by delving straight into frenetic indie dancefloor classic ‘Brianstorm’. They then race through a variety of tracks from their first five albums, all going down a treat for different reasons: the heavy and peculiar Suck It And See’s ‘Don’t Sit Down…’ and fast-paced menace of ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’ in particular provide early highlights.
Between the songs, screams reign out from the front circle anytime Alex Turner looks in the general direction of his gathered fan club. No surprise: the Arctic Monkeys frontman is the epitome of sophistication and style with his wonderful overgrown hair, Italian suit and shades. He may have “punctured his bubble of relatability” (as he’d later sing on ‘Sculptures Of Anything Goes’), but he creates quite the picture above the adoring audience. Vocally, Alex is spot on tonight, his new found crooning style faultless in motion without betraying (as is often claimed) the rough rock edge of early tracks from his band's debut.
Arctic Monkeys received the best reception for tracks from 2013’s AM record (‘Arabella’, ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, ‘Do I Wanna Know?’), which feels fitting considering the album celebrates its tenth birthday this September. The sea of phones which arise for Favourite Worst Nightmare tracks ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ also make you realise just how adored their 2007 sophomore album is amongst the younger generation who’ve gathered in such large numbers.
Yet this evening isn’t just a nostalgic event. A sprinkling of tracks from The Car compliment the classics, proving Arctic Monkeys evolving dynamism – the reception to the epic ‘Body Paint’ in particular is noteworthy, a track you can imagine will become a staple of their sets over the next few years.
And onto the encore: eerie, bass-heavy new track ‘Sculptures Of Anything Goes’ sounds better played later on in the set than as an opener (as it did in Glastonbury). We’re then back down memory lane with ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and ‘R U Mine’ to finish proceedings. Both tracks bring about a sea of limbs from the crowd and ensure the set finishes with the crowd left in no doubt of their hero's greatness.
Arctic Monkeys were slaughtered by many quarters of social media after their Glastonbury set and Glasgow has arguably reaped the rewards. They come out all guns blazing with a point to prove. Turner’s wit is sharp and he looks comfortable to take the attention where the rest of the band stay in the shadows. And the crowd get precisely what they want. The hits are belted out and the newer material is there to compliment rather than over-consume.
Make no mistake, Arctic Monkeys are the best British band of their generation and in Glasgow they more than made up for their Glastonbury criticisms.