It’s impossible not to be impressed by Arctic Monkeys’ growth as a band. Frontman Alex Turner has revealed himself to be a lyricist par excellence and their world building on latest album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is the sort of thematic virtuosity a few shows on Netflix could benefit from.
Likewise their live show is a hyper-stylised event, and on Saturday night this even came down to the choice of support act. LA’s Mini Mansions, who have long since shed their tag as a Queens of the Stone Age side group (frontman Mikey Shoes plays in both), have been following Arctic Monkeys around the world and it was easy to see why.
Both bands deliver theatrical performances with charismatic frontmen. “I’m giving me the creeps,” Mikey Shoes sang early on Creeps, freed from his place behind the drum kit. Their biggest hit Vertigo certainly lit up the arena for an all-in singalong, while 80s-inspired anthem Works Every Time held the crowd and latest single GummyBear got its first ever live performance in Perth, where it’s received plenty of acclaim.
The main event was set up like 1960s art deco hotel lobby, and once Arctic Monkeys arrived on stage it perhaps resembled more of a TV studio from the period with carefully placed microphones playing host to the Sheffield band. They wasted no time at all launching into big single Four Out of Five from the latest record, and it was on from the start.
With a setlist heavily favouring their last two albums, 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare again proved to be the most popular of their older records, generating four tracks including the second up Brianstorm complete to a proper lighting assault.
The roof descended for some stadium rock trickery during One Point Perspective, creating a more introspective environment for one of Tranquility‘s key moments, and was followed by an equally fun Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
The giant rotating hexagon that was the roof was on the move again for Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (the song), lifting back up again in one of the night’s highlights. Cornerstone provided a torches in the air moment set to Turner’s croon, while Pretty Visitors was perhaps the track of the night, a gothic tour de force set against red, Twin Peaks-style curtains (both tunes coming from pivotal 2009 record Humbug).
Of course Arctic Monkeys’ 2006 debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not still has plenty of fans, and while we love the new and improved ‘grown up’ Arctic Monkeys, it remains something of a mystery as to why they only dipped back far enough for one track. It seems that keeping fans somewhat at arms’ reach is part of the new AM schtick, and if that tension and release is to be their new signature, there was certainly a huge release to I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor. It’s not difficult to imagine the mayhem a When the Sun Goes Down or Mardy Bum might produce.
In their place are the new classics, as the encore attested to. While Do I Wanna Know came shortly before the break, it was AM‘s Arabella and R U Mine? that closed the night on a high, and along with Star Treatment (“who you gonna call/ the martini police?”) it was as stylish and meticulously planned a rock outro as you’d expect.
This was Arctic Monkeys mk II in full effect.
Photos by Linda Dunjey