Sheffield’s finest made their big return to UK fields this weekend at TRNSMT. Arctic Monkeys opened on ‘Four Out of Five’ from the divisive Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino. Despite rife concerns by everyone and their nan that the album wouldn’t deliver live, it stood up.
The crowd lapped up everything the band gave them to the point that when ‘Knee Socks’ began and the Glaswegian crowd opened into their battle cry of “here we fucking go”, the band looked stunned for a few moments before Turner uttered “Bit different”, taking it in his stride and continuing with the song.
Alex Turner remains the enigma he was during the AM era, waltzing up and down the stage in an all white suit, slicked back hair sans beard. He allowed the crowd to revel in his very being. A flick of his wrist, snap back of his neck as he belts out a chorus, he engineers his stage persona to be the rockstar he could never be ten years ago.
There’s a certain magic to older tracks like ‘Crying Lightning’ and ‘View From the Afternoon’ live, they take the band back to their former selves. They lose themselves in the moment, thrashing about the stage like they’re playing to 300 people at King Tuts rather than 50,000 on Glasgow Green. Turner loses his composure, lashing out with harsh strums of guitar and lashing out to grab the mic as the crowd fuels his aggression. Coming back down to earth they appear a little embarrassed, Alex Turner moving his mic stand away only to have to run off to collect it and apologise for “getting ahead of [himself]”.
The way the band flit between these personas is exceptional, Turner goes from thrashing about, hair falling out of place to sitting on the drum kit, swinging his legs like Declan McKenna had done on the same stage just eight hours earlier. More meditative track ‘Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’ didn’t quite get the reaction the band appeared to want but it broke up older tunes, giving the band as well as the crowd a breather. Bassist Nick O’Malley and drummer Matt Helders regained composure that they then maintained for the rest of the set.
It was inevitable that when old friend and collaborator, Miles Kane, was playing the Sunday of TRNSMT too that he would crop up in their set or Alex Turner would make an early entrance for Kane’s set. The former was the correct answer, Kane was invited out to play ‘505’ with the band. Turner was fully in his element at this point, sat simply at the piano playing the opening chords for what felt like forever saying ‘you know what this is, Glasgow?’.
‘From Ritz to Rubble’ was a white knuckle ride through early Arctics’ material that didn’t let up when the opening chords of ‘R U Mine?’ rang out across the park. Missing ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ from their setlist perhaps was an oversight but always leave them wanting more I guess? Arctic Monkeys have proven themselves time and time again to be shifting the tide in indie rock and now they’re back and making a splash. So I’ll see you later, innovators.