That rock ‘n’ roll, eh? It might hibernate from time-to-time, but the boys from Sheffield will always be waiting there, just around the corner, ready to make their way through the sludge.
In true Arctic Monkeys fashion, they kept us waiting for five years for The Car following the release of the perversely welcomed Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino.
But they’ve smashed through the glass ceiling and are back looking better than ever – as Mr Turner put so modestly in his iconic 2014 Brit Awards acceptance speech. With a third Glastonbury headline slot on horizon later this month, they brought their mirror ball to the Coventry Building Society Arena – aka the Ricoh – on the second date of a UK and Ireland tour.
After getting over the hangover of having to pay £35 to park a car (THIRTY-FIVE POUNDS), it was time for The Hives, who won the youthful crowd over with Swedish charm, perseverance, and straight up indie bangers. Rush hour traffic meant Merseyside outfit The Mysterines were missed sadly, but their debut record Reeling packs a punch and they’re well worth checking out.
Sporting a pin-stripe blazer over a denim shirt with a neck scarf and his customary aviator sunglasses, Turner and co were met with deafening screams as took to their places on stage.
And then Matt Helders’ pounding drums signalled opener Brianstorm, sending the stadium into complete and utter frenzy. The Monkeys are back! Fan favourites Snap Out of It, Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair and Teddy Picker flew by next as the Steel City four-piece raced through their eclectic catalogue.
With seven albums of material behind them now, it’s no secret that their recent records – while critically acclaimed – haven’t exactly been positively received by the masses. But one thing that is certain is that those first two or so albums are loved universally, so the return of exiled tunes like Mardy Bum and My Propeller meant nostalgia was aplenty.
“I’m thoroughly enjoyin’ me’sen Coventry, it’s lovely to see ya!” declared Turner in his South Yorkshire twang (the LA accent appears to be no more), before smashing through a thunderous performance of Arabella – complete with a short but sweet rendition of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. Ditching his vintage 12-string Vox guitar, Turner jumps behind the piano for space-inspired single Four Out Of Five as flashes from mobile phones light up the night sky around the arena.
From boisterous belters in the form of R U Mine? and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor to timeless ballads like Cornerstone and new track Big Ideas – the range of Monkeys’ offering is unrivalled and their eagerness to continue reinventing the band’s sound must be marvelled. As the set comes to the close, a colossal mirrorball appears above the stage for the stunning (you guessed it) There Better be a Mirrorball – one of only five tracks performed off the previous two albums on the night.
They returned to the stage for a three-song encore, fit with a breath-taking performance of Sculptures of Anything Goes which sent bellowing Turner to his knees – the highlight of the evening’s affairs. It might have been 17 years since the Monkeys first rocketed onto the British music scene, but the tunes still sound as slick in 2023 as they have ever done.
Will Turner still be crooning them out in two decades time? We can only bloody hope so!
Review: Tom Oakley
Feature photo courtesy of PR (c) Zackery Michael 2022