Arctic Monkeys – ‘Live At The Royal Albert Hall’ review: a reminder of the cathartic joy of gigs

This legendary 2018 show is now immortalised, with proceeds going to the charity War Child UK. It's the sound of a band who delight in defying expectations

Forgive us, if you will, a brief moment of soppy nostalgia for banging tunes and DJ sets and dirty dancefloors and dreams of naughtiness. It’s now been nine long months since any of us have had a properly cathartic sticky-floored, shoulder-barged and clammy-armpitted gig experience and my god do we miss them. What I wouldn’t give right now for a stranger to spill the dregs of their pint on me before standing on my toes then barely acknowledging any of it. You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone, right?

‘Arctic Monkeys Live at The Royal Albert Hall’ captures everything rough, ready and beautiful about piling out of work and into what might just be one of the best nights of your life. The gig itself took place two and half years ago – June 7, 2018 to be exact – a charity show for War Child UK with limited tickets available through an extremely over subscribed raffle, making it even more special for those that did manage to get inside the historical London venue.

20 greatest hits, including a smattering of tracks from the then-recently released ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, spread thick and meatily over an hour and a half, this wasn’t just a show – it was an event. The band’s second time at the Albert Hall (their first a Teenage Cancer Trust gig during 2010’s ‘Humbug’ tour), Alex Turner was in full Sheffield Elvis mode, a schtick that seeps through the speakers still, even without seeing the vision that was his perfectly preened quiff and exquisitely tailored suit.

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Lip curls, showmanship and sass are high in the mix, Turner’s vocal sounding the best it’s ever been during the end of the pier romance of ‘Cornerstone’ and a slinky ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ while still holding strong during the clattering final track ‘R U Mine?’.

When all served up together in a kind of all-you-can-eat Arctic Monkeys buffet, the band’s sleek and deft evolution from indie tykes to martini-sipping rock gentry is easier than ever to digest here. Turner is occasionally breathless as he skats through 2006’s ‘The View From The Afternoon’ and ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’, their early material setting itself apart not just through its knackeringly fast pace, but the amount of words Turner manages to cram into three-and-a-half-minutes. Conversely, the five then-new songs are as chilled out as a two week holiday on a remote Mexican beach, with Turner singing “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes” on the horizontal lounge anthem ‘Star Treatment’, but sounding more like he’d actually rather be Frank Sinatra.

But of course it’s not just the band themselves that make this show well worth listening to. If it was, we’d happily just run ourselves a nice bubble bath, pop on ‘AM’ and have done with it. Rather it’s the giddy, absolutely thrilled crowd that prove ‘Arctic Monkeys Live at The Royal Albert Hall’ to be truly captivating.

A brusquely erotic ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ comes alive with screams – actual proper Beatle-mania style squeals and shrieks – from the swirling audience, the noise layering over Matt Helders’ pile-driving drums to create the sort of sound that in any other situation would warrant the immediate attention of the emergency services. Now let’s pump some Covid vaccine straight into our veins and get back to gigs like these. We’ve never been so ready.

Details:

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Release date: December 4

Record label: Domino Recording Co.

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