Arctic Monkeys began their weekend of ‘AM’ farewell shows on Saturday with a typically slick ‘n’ stylish performance on the Reading Festival Main Stage tonight (August 23). Almost a year since its release, the Sheffield band are winding up their UK touring commitments around their stunning fifth LP with shows at Reading and Leeds.
Their set began as it did at the very beginning of the ‘AM’ story, at their Glastonbury 2013 headline slot – with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, deployed this evening with electric energy that got the crowd whooping along to its signature riff.
There were no surprises or twists to be found in the Monkeys’ set for the special occasion. Instead, it was the well-oiled production they’ve been touring for months, playing an almost identical set list to the one at their London Finsbury Park extravaganzas back in May 2014.
Alex Turner began the set with his guitar, but intermittently downed his instrument to strut around the stage with only the microphone, as on ‘AM’ standout ‘Arabella’. The frontman’s developed some seriously Nick Cave-esque hip-slinging dance moves since the new album. Maybe the Monkeys’ sixth will be a dark, dirgey Birthday Party brooder?
Stage banter was kept to a minimum, with only brief pauses in the set for air. Turner did however take the opportunity to re-introduce the crowd to his band mates before a blockbuster rendition of ‘R U Mine?’ – a reminder the Monkeys isn’t just the Alex Turner show.
Guitarist Jamie Cook made himself a front-runner for snazziest dresser of the weekend with his swish threads – a prohibition-era gangster suit, like something straight out of a 1930s New York speakeasy.
The Monkeys appeared to draw more than double the crowd that turned out for Queens of the Stone Age’s closing set the previous evening – no small feat.
Ahead of ‘Snap Out Of It’, Turner hailed the audience. “You’re a fucking good crowd Reading. I like you very much,”
he told fans, who replied with loud screams that let the frontman know the feeling’s more than mutual. On to Leeds tomorrow – the final farewell to ‘AM’…