They’ve already headlined just about every festival up and down the country and nailed it at Wembley, Earls Court and the O2 Arena, so it’s with one crowning, righteous hurrah that Arctic Monkeys will take to Finsbury Park this week (May 23 and 24) for two gigantic headline shows.
With Tame Impala, Miles Kane (naturally) and Royal Blood in tow and over 80,000 people cramming into the North London field to see them over the two nights, these gigs are their Oasis at Knebworth, their Stone Roses at Spike Island; two gargantuan gatherings to cement Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Nick O’Malley’s place as the biggest band in Britain.
It’s with no small level of pressure then, that the band will have to work out the best setlist with which to deliver their crowning sermon. For a gig of this size, you wouldn’t be surprised if the Sheffield lads stretched out their stage time to around the two-hour mark. But with five number one albums to their name, they’ve got way, way more hits than a mere 120-minutes worth.
So what would you rather the new King Monkeys focus on? ‘AM’ was our number one album of 2013 by a country mile, easing into filthy, Queens of the Stone Age-tinged territory while keeping Turner’s uniquely British turn of phrase and delivering game-changing backing vocals that literally raised the bar for every other band. We’d be happy if they played it in its entirety. (At recent shows in Australia and New Zealand they’ve played a mixture of material with a focus on ‘AM’). But then there’s the tracks that introduced them, and no one could argue that a crowd sing-a-long of ‘When The Sun Goes Down’, ‘Mardy Bum’ (original or the slowed down version they brought out at Glasto?) or ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ won’t guarantee 40,000 people simultaneously having the time of their lives.
And in between those two bookends, there’s three albums that have soundtracked the trajectory of one of the most persistently brilliant and exciting bands this century: ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘This House Is A Circus’ from 2007’s ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’; ‘Crying Lightning’ and ‘Cornerstone’ from brooding about-turn ‘Humbug’; ‘Suck It and See’s ‘Don’t Sit Down Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’ and ‘She’s Thunderstorms’. Then there’s Alex’s foray into stripped-back, 50s-style romance on the soundtrack to ‘Submarine’: it seems perfectly reasonable on such a special night that we could get an outing of the sublime ‘Stuck On A Puzzle’, not to mention ‘Piledriver Waltz’ (a regular set favourite and also a track on ‘Suck It And See’). A Miles Kane guest spot on regular set closer ‘505’? That seems almost guaranteed given his support slot, but a little foray into Last Shadow Puppets territory? Who knows? Could the recent cover of Tame Impala’s ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ spell out a collaboration waiting to happen? And away from the supports on the night, there may well be other secret guests joining the band on stage.
The Monkeys have got one hell of a job on their hands whittling down their impressive arsenal to one perfect setlist. So what do you want to see them play at Finsbury Park next week? Let us know in the comments below.