The Arctic Monkeys are one of my younger daughter’s favourite bands. Unfortunately for her, she was away the night they played Toulouse: she had to go to Paris to provide moral support for her beloved, who was trying to get through the insanely paranoid US visa system so he could visit the States for 6 months while she’s studying there. Bravely I offered to stand in for her. Such self-sacrifice deserved at least a T-shirt. Of course, I was pretty confident that I wasn’t taking much of a risk, since the Monkeys are the band that put an unexpected end to Muse’s run as Best Live Band at the NME Awards in 2010.
And indeed, it was an excellent gig. It was pretty light on extrovert showmanship: very little bouncing around the stage like a flea with ADD, but then that’s not really suited to their style of music. Musically, it was outstanding. The Monkeys’ idiosyncratic mixture of indie rock, Northern English accents, lyrics that actually mean something, and seriously danceable tunes is as enjoyable live as on CD. More so, in fact. When you’ve got a venue with top-quality acoustics and a band who don’t feel they need to turn the volume up to 11 for everyone to have a good time (the earplugs I brought stayed in my pocket for once), it’s a perfect opportunity to show everyone the difference between cold studio recordings and the warmth of a live performance. Last night those conditions were met and optimal enjoyment ensued. Incidentally, Alex Turner’s voice sounds far better live.
You can find official video recordings of five numbers recorded during this gig here.
As far as the setlist is concerned, one picture is worth an awful lot of Google searches. I compared this with my own notes and I’m pretty sure it’s right:
As you can see, the set includes five songs from the new album, Suck It And See. She’s Thunderstorms was a nice surprise in place of Black Treacle in previous setlists: it’s definitely among my favourites from Suck It And See – which is full of good numbers, don’t get me wrong.
The opening act was local punk-metal band Shaking Heads. Not bad, and they work hard at making sure everyone has a good time. Recommended.