The wags down the front shouting requests for a cover of ‘Taxman’ went home disappointed. Last night (July 10), Arctic Monkeys headlined the NOS Alive festival (formerly known as Optimus Alive) and while it’s hardly a surprise they failed to acknowledge their taxing recent news story they did give us a taste of what British audiences can expect from their headline shows this summer at T In The Park (this Sunday) and at Reading and Leeds (in August). Basically, Alex Turner is planning on seducing you – and as any blushing bride to be knows that means he’ll need four things:
The phasing out of old standards like ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco’ and ‘Mardy Bum’ continues, but first album tracks ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ pulled off the magic trick of transforming a massive festival field into the world’s biggest outdoor indie disco. ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ tracks provide the cornerstones of the set, with ‘Brianstorm’ part of the heavy early onslaught and snoggers’ anthem ‘Flourescent Adolescent’ and ‘505’ closing the main portion of the set.
Exactly half of this set is drawn from ‘AM’ – they play 10 of their most recent album’s 12 tracks. Is there another band five albums deep into their career who could do something similar without boring their audience to tears? The set opens and closes with the crushing riffs of ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and ‘R U Mine?’ respectively, but perhaps ‘AM’s greatest contribution to the set is the slower ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’, with Turner on acoustic guitar. It tugs at the heartstrings so sharply that it’ll have full grown Scotsmen weeping into their cans of Tennant’s Extra Strength by the end of the weekend.
So predictably there’s no cover of ‘Taxman’ or even The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’ (“The tax man’s taken all my dough / And left me in my stately home / Lazing on a sunny afternoon…”). This is a band who’ve been known to crack out the odd cover for a special occasion, (‘Diamonds Are Forever’ at Glastonbury the year Shirley Bassey played, or ‘Come Together’ at the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony) but tonight the only filched parts of their set are the now customary touch of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ in ‘Arabella’ and the words of John Cooper Clarke for ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ during the encore. There’s still a chance they could cover ‘I Would Walk 500 Miles’ at T In The Park, although admittedly not a very big one.
Above all, the thing to expect from an Arctic Monkeys headline set these days is to be unrepentantly seduced. It starts when Turner ditches his guitar on ‘Arabella’ to allow him more freedom to shake his snakehips, and it continues when he introduces ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ as “an old song, one for the girls.” Before ‘Fireside’ he announces that he’s “going to play a love song, because it feels like the right thing to do” and he dedicates ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ to “the booty call you’re gonna make later.” The set is wrapped up inextricably with Turner’s libido, but as a 55,000 strong mix of Portuguese teenagers and Brits abroad can assure you, after an hour and a half of being chirpsed by Sheffield’s own Casanova you’ll wanna be his.
Arctic Monkeys played:
‘Do I Wanna Know?’
‘Snap Out of It’
‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’
‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’
‘No. 1 Party Anthem’
‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’
‘One for the Road’
‘I Wanna Be Yours’
‘R U Mine?’