Dizzee Rascal’s flashy Pyramid Stage fireworks give way to a relatively low-key opening to the Arctic Monkeys’ second crack at the Glastonbury headline slot. As good as their first time was, it’s immediately clear that six years later the band have well and truly upped their game. Opening with ‘AM’ track and already-classic-newbie ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ the video screens are dark for the entirety of the track, just purple clouds of dry ice and Alex Turner’s moody baritone drifting above the masses.
The visuals come to life for ‘Brianstorm’, as punters let off red flares in the crowd, bringing Alex’s spangly dinner jacket to life. In fact, it doesn’t take long for him to go the full Bruce Forsyth, when he says, “It’s nice to see ya,” after introducing the band. “How you feeling everybody, you feeling good?” he adds. “Are you feeling like partying – are you in a party mood? It’s Friday night.”
After a rowdy ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ Alex reveals that they’re “just gonna play things that are classic and special.” Fittingly ‘Teddy Picker’ comes next, and even though Alex’s immaculate quiff has started to droop, the crowd certainly hasn’t. Banger follows banger, with ‘Crying Lightning’ and the Matt Helders-led ‘Brick By Brick’ ahead of ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco’ which is as genius as it ever was. “I wanna play some of that full moon music,” drawls Alex before ‘Pretty Visitors’. He cracks a smile while dedicating ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ to “all the fellas out there that were too cool to wave their arms – this one’s for your girlfriends.”
Proceedings dip a little for new song ‘Mad Sounds’, mainly because no one knows the words yet, but everyone gets reinvolved for a massive ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’. After a lengthy gap before the encore, leaving everyone wondering if they’ve actually left for good, the band reappear for ‘Cornerstone’, with Alex dropping in some of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ as a nod to Chris Martin’s presence on the side of the stage.
There’s still time for the crowd to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Alex Turner’s mum before Miles Kane swaggers on for ‘505’. “In order to finish things off properly we need a little help from our friend,” says Alex modestly. As they proved tonight, Arctic Monkeys are doing just fine on their own.