As soon as I heard about these two exclusive gigs, I knew I had to get a ticket for myself and my boyfriend. Arctic Monkeys are his favourite band and their recent album AM got a brilliant review from me. I hadn’t seen them live before but had been told that they are masters at capturing a crowd. Finsbury Park was of course packed to the brim and to avoid being squashed by people much bigger and drunker than I was, I stayed relatively near the back. As a result, I couldn’t see that much of the stage but I could certainly hear and appreciate everything that was happening on it.
Earlier on in the evening, Brighton rock duo Royal Blood had played a set and introduced us to their garage-inspired sound that has spawned singles Out Of The Black and Little Monster. Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders is a long-time supporter of the band and has been on board with them since before they came onto the scene. With backing such as this, we’re sure to hear a hell of a lot more from them. Scouse musician and The Last Shadow Puppets frontman Miles Kane then played his energetic dirty indie while warming up the crowd. The crowd had quickly grown by the time Australian psychedelic group Tame Impala took to the stage. Plenty of colourful trippy graphics accompanied their weird and wonderful set which included their hit single Elephant. The crowd were certainly pretty chilled out before the headliners arrived.
The dark sultry riff of Do I Wanna Know? echoed out across the park and the crowd went wild. Shouting the lyrics back to them, Alex Turner lapped up the reception and retained his distinctive drawl into Snap Out Of It with its catchy rhythm. Continuing the AM theme, Arabella followed complete with a Black Sabbath’s War Pigs interlude. Taking things back a few albums, the frantic intro to Brianstorm began and the long-time fans finally got something else to sing along to. With little to no chat with the crowd, Alex simply glided through to Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair and then back to the old stuff again with Dancing Shoes. An extended intro led to Suck It And See track Library Pictures before the soaring rock ballad Crying Lightning rang out across the field. Latest single Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? came up next and received some of the best feedback yet. Sticking with AM, the tribal sounding Fireside preceded their debut smash I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.
Bringing the crowd down from their high-energy indie mania, She’s Thunderstorms and No.1 Party Anthem chilled us out for the emotional Cornerstone which saw the band show off their acoustic skills for the first time. Being able to hold an audience across Finsbury Park with an acoustic guitar is something only the best can do and they certainly lulled their audience into a slump following it up with Knee Socks. Flip back to early Arctics for Fluorescent Adolescent and 505 which seemed to bring the gig to a slow, casual end.
The encore began with Alex Turner’s acoustic solo version of A Certain Romance. It seemed a strange choice for the first track in an encore but as the sun was fading in the park, Alex’s vocals really set a chilled atmosphere and soothed away all the frenzy from the first half of the gig. The undeniable intro to One For The Road then sounded and it gently lapsed into beautiful ballad I Wanna Be Yours. Ending on an explosive last note, R U Mine? got the last slot and continued into an extended outro singing us back to the tube station.
Arctic Monkeys are certainly a great live band. They’d clearly organised their set-list to evoke different emotions at certain points in the show and as a result, they were in complete control of how their audience felt. The combination of the venue, the warm calm weather and the dulcet tones of a great live band had a wonderful early-summer, boho vibe and it really was a great night of indie heaven!
*Photos are not mine.