tue 23/05/2017

Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park | reviews, news & interviews

Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park

Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park

The beloved Sheffield band scrub up well for a slick, mature headline show

The charisma-exuding Alex TurnerMichael Dornbierer

Whatever “it” is, Alex Turner has it in his bones. From those first excitable live performances passed around online in the early 2000s, before Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys rocketed to No. 1 success apparently overnight, to 2014’s triumphant Finsbury Park headlining residency, the frontman exudes charisma live. Where that once came from his disarming lyrical dexterity and comparable physical awkwardness, though, he’s now a different character entirely: one with smooth hair and smoother hips, who floats through an hour and a half set in front of a crowd of around 40,000 like a living, breathing rock and roll icon.

Having last caught the band during a festival tour three years ago, on the heels of the release of third album Humbug, seeing them at Finsbury Park was like meeting a scruffy lad you knew in sixth form in a suit and tie years later. They’re the same old friends you knew a long time ago - it’s there in Turner’s cheeky hip wiggles and points, and in shout-outs to the audience telling them they look beautiful and that “I’ve moved your chair, Finsbury Park!” during the most delightfully childish of singles, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” - but along with this sly wink-wink nudge-nudge humour was a whole new gloss. The same can be said of their latest release AM itself, which succeeds in packaging the classic Arctic Monkeys hooks and attitude in a falsetto-tinged, experimental setting with ease.

The devil has always been in the details, and that’s more obvious than ever in their current incarnationThe monochromatic aesthetic of the show could easily have been a cheesy fast-track to a “mature” image, but in combination with the band’s very limited stage banter, restrained dance moves and technical exactitude it felt harmonious. Tasteful lighting was only used for dramatic effect during climactic moments (fiery colours were used during "Fireside", and that sort of thing: simple, clean touches), while black and white live footage on the screens either side of the stage crystallised Turner as the epitome of cool, capturing all of those minute movements he made that captivated such a large space.

Arctic Monkeys were once a band about massive gestures and belligerent choruses, and that’s still very much a part of what they do - but the devil has always been in the details, and that’s more obvious than ever in their current incarnation. Touchingly, it’s always obvious at any of their shows that their lyrics genuinely mean the world to their fans. There was scarcely a person in the crowd who didn’t scream out the labyrinthine verses and choruses with religious fervour, at every level of inebriation and throughout ballads and hyperactive early hits such as “Brianstormand “I Bet You Look Good On The Danceflooralike.

Perhaps the machine is so well-oiled now that there’s a small part of the audience that longs for the rambunctiousness of an Arctic Monkeys set of three years ago, where it all felt a little more slipshod, angry and spontaneous. But with their giant takeover of Finsbury Park, what you get are a band who have all the cool, calm collectedness of knowing that they’ve just made the finest, most mature album of their career. It’s far from passionless - the recent single “R U Mine” is a roaring finale capable of rousing as huge a response from the crowd as their biggest early No 1s - but it’s got the added touch of being as slick as Turner’s carefully combed hair.

Seeing them at Finsbury Park was like meeting a scruffy lad you knew in sixth form in a suit and tie years later

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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