And like that, it was over. Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ tour bowed out on Sunday evening in Bogotá, Colombia, following the conclusion of their Latin American leg. It was, compared to ‘AM’s gargantuan 150-show monster (this one clocked in at a cool 90) a relatively brief affair. The first teaser for ‘Tranquility Base…’ dropped on April 5 last year, a month later they hit the road starting in LA, before a May release date, a festival full of summers, their biggest UK tour ever, plenty of haircuts and a shit-load of memes that rounded out perhaps their most intriguing and playful era yet.
The gigs were a hoot, with each offering differing arrangements, unexpected deep cuts or a new-found love for mid-gig banter by Turner, and most fans tried to cram in as many as they could (this writer managed four – Royal Albert Hall, two at The O2, and Flow Festival, Finland). But what comes next? A new record seems to be coming sooner rather than later, if you trust what they’ve been saying on tour, while solo albums for Messrs Turner and Helders could be on the cards.
For now, however, let’s take remember some of the key gigs that defined this most wonderful era.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, Los Angeles
When: May 5, 2018
What made it so special? Arriving just days after their first two shows back – a couple of underplays in San Diego – this was, dare we say it, the real comeback. It was the first gig of sizeable propositions, the first in an outside arena (where they’d spend much of this tour) and the one where Turner’s confused trail-off in ‘One Point Perspective’ started getting attention beyond the walls’ of Monkeys’ fan forums.
The best moment: This acoustic-led performance of ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ which turns it from spindly indie into a certified soft-rock jam. It’s so good that someone on the front row gasps after hearing a single strum (00:03) of the track.
Royal Albert Hall, London
When: June 7, 2018
What made it so special? It was the first UK show in almost four years and found the boys in scintillating form on their return to the historic venue – the second time they’d played at Queen Vic’s gaffe, the first coming during the ‘Humbug’ tour in 2010. The five cuts from ‘Tranquility Base…’ went down a treat, though it was the sweet and, quite frankly, a teeny-bit sloppy version of ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’ (first time since 2011), where the band stripped it back to the four-piece lineup, that proved to be a real highlight.
The best moment: Turner prowling the stage during the breakdown of ‘pretty Visitors’ before nicking darts personality Martin Fitzmaurice’s catchphrase: ‘Let’s play darts!’ as the chunky organ riff kicks in.
TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow
When: July 1, 2018
What made it so special: It was the band’s sole British festival headline slot last summer (they did 26 across the whole tour) and looked fucking bananas. Glasgow is known to have some of the best crowds in the UK, but the response to both old songs and new is unparalleled. And it was the only British show to get this lovely pro-shot footage.
The best moment: After weeks of polarising responses to ‘Tranquility Base…’, endless journalistic hot-takes and staggering overuse of the phrase “lounge-lizard”, seeing a field-full of dedicated fans sing their heart out for both opening song ‘Four Out Of Five’ and fan-favourite ‘Brianstorm’ was the proof of the pudding.
Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield
When: September 18 – 22, 2018
What made it so special: Any homecoming show for the boys tends to go down in Monkeys’ lore (Don Valley in 2010, for one) and after a weeks of hype – and hearing stories from the fans who were sweating it out at the band’s earliest gigs, seeing them conquer the hometown’s biggest Arena four times over was a real treat.
The best moment: On night one, the band debuted a piano-led version of ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ and repeated it the following night, but opted not to pick it up for the rest of the tour.
Foro Sol, Mexico City
When: March 24, 2019
What made it so special: From what we can tell (more than a quick scroll through Wikipedia, we’ll have you know) this may well have been the biggest standalone show – discarding festivals – of the entire run, clocking in at a reported 64,497. Also, this last stretch of the tour saw Turner revisit the slicked-backed ‘do of the ‘AM’ tour, which after the drama of the head shaving the previous summer, was a surprise. But it’s just hair, innit.
The best moment: This version of live medley ‘Drawbridge’ – known by fans as ‘Jam Of Boston’ – just absolutely rips, landing somewhere between Black Sabbath, The Doors and The Bad Seeds.