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Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys – The Ageas Bowl

Tonight saw Arctic Monkeys drive ‘The Car’ tour into town to play The Ageas Bowl in front of a long sold out crowd. The Monkeys have so far travelled across the country taking in their hometown Sheffield and Manchester to name a few. It was a beautiful summers evening tonight with the sun illuminating the cricket ground perfectly. There was already a buzz in the air when I arrived at the venue for when the gates opened with AM merch adorned by the army of fans. 

The Mysterines were the first band of the evening and I was absolutely delighted to be seeing them play again but this time, and deservedly so, on a much bigger stage supporting the lads from the Steel City. I last saw them as support to Royal Blood a few years back and their album “Reeling’ was one of my stand out favourites of 2022 – their grunge, garage rock album was also well received by the usual outlets. Lia Metcalfe’s voice is that of someone well beyond her years with its growl and depth to complement the tenacious guitar riffs from Callum Thompson. Ripping through their setlist at pace we see a lot played from debut album including ‘Hung Up’, ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Life’s a Bitch (But I Like It So Much).

A band I was surprised but also excited to see announced on this tour were The Hives and what better way to set up the energy for what was to come with the Monkeys. The Hives are renowned for their electric showmanship that they bring to the live performances especially from frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and tonight was no different! From the off Pelle was meandering around the stage from side to side and then made his way down into the pit to interact with the crowd first hand – it felt like some didn’t really understand what was going on with The Hives but it didn’t really matter! The whole band were dressed in matching suits that were left to them by enigmatic Randy Fitzsimmons with every member providing ‘Pelle’ moments in their own unique ways.  We were treated to a number of new tracks from their soon to be released new album ‘The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons’ (11th August 2023) – their first in 10 years including latest single ‘Bogus Operati’ (check out the video if you get time!) and ‘Rigor Mortis Radio along with the classic numbers ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’. 

Arctic Monkeys
Photo Credit: Russ Leggatt (above and main)

The last time that I was stood on this oval pitch of The Ageas Bowl (or Rose Bowl as it was called then) was in 2005 when Oasis were touring their ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ album (underrated in my opinion) and the crowd that day were pretty hectic. I was unsure what to expect tonight from the crowd with its mixture of avid fans, scenesters and those that were here to just see the hits played. It must be a difficult choice for the Monkeys constructing their setlist given the evolution of the band into different territory as seen with the last two albums ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ and the most recent ‘The Car’. 

There are some individuals in who ooze ‘cool bastard’ in life and Alex Turner is right up there with them – even more so when you get to see him up close! Sharp suited, hair swept back and aviators being worn, Alex sweeps up the adulation he receives as he enters the stage flanked by Jamie, Nick and Mr Matt Helders on drums. The opening song has been alternating during the tour and tonights turn falls to ‘Brianstorm’ – a worthy choice! What follows is nothing short of magnificent – ‘Crying Lightening’, ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘The View From the Afternoon’ – if they crowd were ready before then they were now full steam ahead!  

There was a vintage feel to proceedings tonight from the stage backdrop, to the band’s attire and the filter that was applied to the visuals on the screens – Alex’s stage presence was also mesmerising at times. The setlist had a heavy lean towards ‘AM’, ’Favourite Worst Nightmare’ and ‘Humbug’ – personal favourites ‘Arabella’, ‘Snap Out of It’ and ‘Do I Wanna Know?’’ packed out tonights proceedings. 

I was intrigued to see how the new material would transpose into the live environment and fit into the setlist – ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’ and ‘Body Paint’ with ‘505’ sandwiched in between was a delight. ‘505’ is initially played at a slightly slower tempo to the record version which helps effortlessly complement the new sound of the two songs that surround it. The outro of ‘Body Paint’ is nothing short of magnificent and yes, there was a mirrorball but it wasn’t used during that song. 

After the customary encore movements – we were further treated to the John Cooper Clarke penned/Alex Turner adapted ‘I Wanna Be Yours’, crowd favourite ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ which saw an enormous surge of energy throughout the crowd when the first bars were played with ‘R U Mine?’ closing out the evening  

Firmly established as one of the best bands of this century, sometimes you wonder if it is possible for Arctic Monkeys to get any better but they certainly prove it every time! Their sound and style is ever maturing like a fine wine and unlike the song title I’m giving this one Five Out of Five! 

Arctic Monkeys
Photo Credit: Russ Leggatt (above)
5.0 rating
5/5
Total Score
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