Last night Arctic Monkeys played the first of their two massive London shows in front of 45,000 people at Finsbury Park. With support from Royal Blood, Miles Kane and Tame Impala, it was almost like a mini-festival for the Sheffield band as they made a triumphant return to Britain from their new homes in Los Angeles. Here are the five best bits from a day which elevated Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Matt Helders and Nick O’Malley onto the next level.
1. ‘A Certain Romance’
It was a special night in Arctic Monkeys history and the band dived back to the very beginning for the start of the encore. Alex Turner walked out on his own, smoking a cigarette and looking relaxed before playing ‘A Certain Romance’, the final song from the band’s 2006 debut album, by himself, acoustically. The band rarely play this song live any more so to hear it in this fashion was a real highlight.
2. The reaction for ‘…Dancefloor’
Arctic Monkeys’ career has been given a huge shot in the arm by the success of 2013 album ‘AM’, reminding people just how great the band are, and there is a sense that more fans want to hear the new material rather than the older stuff. However, the Finsbury Park audience went big on the classics with ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ getting the biggest crowd reaction of the night. Similarly, ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ has thousands of Londoners adopting their best Sheffield accents to sing along.
3. ‘AM’ material
That’s not to say that the newer songs weren’t a triumph. It seems inconceivable that Arctic Moneys could ever start a live show with anything besides ‘Do I Wanna Know’ in the future and hearing fans try to match the Bee Gees-style backing vocals on ‘One For The Road’ is quite an experience. Elsewhere the heavy riffs of ‘Arabella’ and lilting waltz of ‘Number One Party Anthem’ showed the two sides of the band’s energy off perfectly.
4. The Parrot’s Beak
Situated directly behind the main stage and near a merchandise stand selling t-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ and the excellent, ‘What Would Miles Do?’ was a bar named The Parrot’s Beak. Super-fans will recognise the reference from ‘Cornerstone’, the ‘Humbug’ era single. The fire alarms inside weren’t easily spotted, nor any girls with broken arms, but nevertheless, this felt like a nice, personal touch from a band who know what they mean to their fans – and know how much their fans follow them with devotion.
5. The way the band looked
Speaking to NME before the show, bass player Nick O’Malley said that one of the band’s pre-show rituals is to get dressed up smartly so as to not look like “scrubbers” for the gig. The band certainly scrubbed up well last night with extra sartorial points to Jamie Cook for sporting an all white suit with a white shirt in a mussy field in north London. Alex Turner, meanwhile, opted for a smart looking smoking jacket with white, geometric patterns.