Arctic Monkeys

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author AP date 27/06/18 venue Royal Arena, Copenhagen, DEN

Four years have elapsed since Arctic Monkeys last graced our shores with a concert heavily focused on their disappointing 2013 album, “AM”, on Roskilde Festival’s Orange Stage. But one has to look back even further — all the way to 2007, when they were at the height of their popularity in fact — to find an indoor show with the Sheffield, United Kingdom-born garage-rock icons in Denmark. Needless to say, there are plenty of fans, young and old alike, who have been looking forward to watching the band with a roof over their heads again, especially as the aforementioned Roskilde’ concert was swiftly followed by one of the most intense and long-lasting thunderstorms Denmark has seen in recent history. Albeit reduced to its ‘medium’ size with the closure of the highest section of seats, the Royal Arena is thus bustling at maximum capacity by the time the lights dim for the evening’s headliners to take the stage.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Arctic Monkeys

In keeping with the more muted and atmospheric style of their brand new album, “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino”, the stage is elegantly set up with racks of bulb lights, glow wire and “MONKEYS” spelled out with white, phosphorescent letters in lieu of a traditional backdrop. The set also begins with a track off that record in “Four out of Five”, and it immediately seems like most of the attendees are either unfamiliar or simply unsatisfied with the direction the ‘Monkeys have pursued, as after an initial roar of excitement upon the band’s entrance, there is no energy nor enthusiasm to be seen anywhere in the crowd. This is perhaps the reason “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” off the quartet’s début album from 2006, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”, is switched from the end of the setlist to position six in place of the less energetic “View from the Afternoon” — to sustain the wilder response that follows the likes of “Brianstorm” (the smash-hit off 2007’s “Favourite Worst Nightmare”) and “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” (which features on 2011’s “Suck It and See”). Indeed, as soon as frontman Alex Turner leads his three cohorts — guitarist Jamie Cook, bassist Nick O’Malley and drummer Matt Helders — back to their garage- and indie-rocking roots, the place explodes into an ocean of jumping bodies and loud sing-alongs, exactly as it was at the aforementioned Roskilde ’14 performance.

Clearly, the majority of people are here for the high-energy hits and classics — not to appreciate the subtler style of songs like the titular “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino” and “Fireside”, both of which are brought to life beautifully via the massive touring band, which adds another six musicians to the line-up on stage. Personally, I fall somewhere in between, feeling just as nostalgic as the rest of the people here when the likes of “Do Me a Favour” are aired, yet having developed a fondness for tracks like “505” and “She Looks Like Fun”, the latter of which sees the ‘Monkeys joined by Cameron Avery on piano, as well. Turner may not be doing “One Point Perspective” much justice by forgetting most of the lyrics as he goes, but I nonetheless feel more positively about the new material now than I did when listening to the record at home. Despite their moodier complexion, these songs revel in the live setting, especially with the stage so retrospectively dressed so as to mirror a performance in a ‘Vegas resort in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It is a shame, however, that very few other people attending seem to share this affection — perhaps also because the sound mix is far from optimal in terms of conveying the wealth of detail packed into these songs.

Overall, the concert thus ends up feeling a little flat. For large portions of it, there is no synergy between band and audience, with the two counterparts having arrived with vastly different ideas for what the show should be, and as a result, the signature bursts of energy from Turner in particular grow fewer and farther in between as the minutes clock in. A brief restoration occurs during the encore, with the “AM” tracks “Arabella” and “R U Mine?” both summoning that festive atmosphere that tends to make Arctic Monkeys’ concerts so exhilarating. But it is too little, too late: the concert never reaches the euphoric heights that we have come to expect of the ‘Monkeys and I am sure I am not alone in going home with a feeling of disappointment.

6

Setlist:

  • 01. Four out of Five
  • 02. Do I Wanna Know?
  • 03. Brianstorm
  • 04. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
  • 05. Crying Lightning
  • 06. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
  • 07. 505
  • 08. Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
  • 09. Fireside
  • 10. Do Me a Favour
  • 11. Cornerstone
  • 12. Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
  • 13. Knee Socks
  • 14. One Point Perspective
  • 15. She Looks Like Fun
  • 16. Pretty Visitors
  • 17. The View from the Afternoon

— Encore —

  • 18. Star Treatment
  • 19. Arabella
  • 20. R U Mine?

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