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The latest stop on their 2018 UK tour brought Arctic Monkeys to the Barclaycard Arena in the centre of Birmingham. The Sheffield band treated the crowd to tracks from all six of their albums, including Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino which was released earlier this year.
There had been some speculation as to what song the band would open their set with, in the end it was "Star Treatment," which Alex Turner fronted from behind a piano—like he did for much of the newest album. The lounge vibe of TBH&C didn’t stay around for long, as straight afterwards and back to back followed "Brianstorm" and "Snap Out of It" from albums gone by. The latter is without doubt a song more associated with the band's earlier work. To hear it within the confines of the band's new stylings was always going to be welcome.
Five of the tracks from TBH&C were flaunted by the band. The next in the set-list, the title track of the new album, followed on from "505." A slow, progressive intro which then bursts through the gears at pace, "505" is a song which like many of the band's tracks is iconic. On a personal note it rounds off my favourite album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, and live it’s special.
There wasn’t a great deal of interaction with the crowd from Turner, this is nothing new really. After paying a small fortune for tickets, very few would have wanted a monologue between each song. "From the Ritz to the Rubble" is quintessentially AM as it tells of the events of a standard British night out. Very few of us have not had some sort of run-in with a bouncer or seen people trying to kick off unnecessarily. Hearing this song would have evoked these sorts of memories within many in Birmingham that night.
The setlist was peppered with tracks you’d never think would be played on tour. "Cornerstone" was the stand out when researching previous song lists on the tour, but the band have changed the odd song throughout. It was a relief to see that the record from Humbug had made the cut. It’s one which allows Turners lyrical creativity to thrive as it was echoed back to the band from the thousands singing along all around.
We were taken back into 2018 for two more tracks once Turner had finished telling us a certain woman said he could call her any name he wants (hopefully that reads better in your head than mine). "One Point Perspective" like most of the chilled TBH&C pieces is injected with just that bit more pizzazz when performed live. Granted, the album is low key, yet the lyrics are what is usually expected on an AM album.
The bright lights and slick stage design combined with electrifying results. "Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve moved your Chair" was performed by Turner with the usual style and sophistication. It’s a fantastic tune, and it doesn’t half leave you wanting to do some of the stuff which is listed off throughout.
"Four out of Five" rounded off the main event, a track which has arguably become the staple song of the newest release. Even played live, it feels oh so very American, miles away from any early AM stuff. Much like Alex Turner's newly adopted shaved-head look. Times are changing, apparently.
The trio of encore songs included and concluded with "R U Mine?" and it contained so much energy that it could have been mistaken for an opening track. Plenty inside the arena knew the words, making it a blissful send off. The Arctic Monkeys may have been away for longer than hoped, so it was an absolute pleasure to spend Saturday night with them. Their UK tour rolls on, and I’d be very surprised if we have to wait as long for new music as we did for TBH&C.