Words: Freya Bromley
On October 22nd, the floor of Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England was a sea of illuminated rectangles as the audience eagerly waited to capture their beloved band. Arriving on stage to thunderous applause Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O’Malley and Matt Helder aka. the Arctic Monkeys, launched into their current single, the achingly slow and sexy, “Do I Wanna Know?” to begin the show. They then tore into “Brainstorm,” sending the already rowdy crowd wild. The four piece managed to maintain a level of hysteria throughout the whole of the night taking songs from all five of their albums.
Turner then focused his attention on the ladies, as he addressed the “Geordie Lasses” and began playing “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”, which shot them to stardom back in 2005. Their first LP, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, was an instant classic that mixed tough garage punk with rough and rich lyrics about life in a small town. Turner lovingly nicknamed it “chip-shop rock & roll” a style which he appears to have abandoned for their new shimmery and slightly more sophisticated record, AM. This new genre, however, has not deterred fans as the album, released by Domino Records, has been hailed by most critics as their best since 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare.
AM has an intergalactic, slightly cosmic element that is absent in their previous work. This, coupled with the addition of falsettos and a more rhythm-centric approach fits in well with the bands aging fan base that has followed them from teen days to adulthood. This sophistication is not only apparent in their sound but in their look too. Alex’s rockabilly-inspired quiff was combed in-between each song causing the women in the audience to swoon at his onstage allure that was improved immensely by his mod attire.
Arctic Monkeys have become the first band on an independent label to score five consecutive No. 1 albums. The chart record follows news that the Sheffield band’s fifth album, AM, hit the top spot by selling 157,000 copies in its first week. Despite their recent move to LA, Sheffield groupies shouldn’t be disheartened as beneath the frantic electronic snare was “0114” the dialling code for Sheffield emblazoned on the drum-set. Every thud on that drum-set was hit as though it was the last. Sheffield’s finest have the power to take the gig anywhere they want and Matt Helder’s drums will force you there. As they closed the show Turner leered over the microphone and whispered “come here, I wanna ask you something” before breaking into “R U Mine” whilst glittering confetti showered their adoring fans.
Turner’s uncanny knack for clever, vivid lyrics hypnotised the audience. As Turner acknowledges, many of the album’s lyrics centre on his breakup with his long term girlfriend Alexa Chung in 2010. He even described “’Do I Wanna Know?” as ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ with a jet pack on.” Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner is, to many, the best songwriter of his generation and AM was hailed in some influential if moderately overexcited quarters as the finest record to be released in the past decade.