At the beginning of the video of The Arctic Monkeys’ smash hit ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor,’ Alex Turner utters the immortal words “don’t believe the hype.” For all we knew back then The Arctic Monkeys were just 2006 “hype” but six years on and The Arctic Monkeys have released their fourth album and although their first album was debatably one of the best albums this century, encapsulating teenage life in its most obvious and yet epically poetic form, The Arctic Monkeys have gone on to write albums that so many others would be truly envious of. ‘Suck It and See’ is the next chapter in their illustrious history.
The Arctic Monkeys attract one of the most eclectic crowds, with their fair share of Fred Perry wearing indie kids, shrieking girls (no older than 15) accompanied by parents who secretly sing along to every word, anyone with even a vague sense of what good indie rock sounds like, and us, the people who grew up with The Arctic Monkeys, the ones that they tell you they liked The Monkeys before they were ‘cool’. All of the above were present and correct as they came to the stage at Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena, following on from a rousing performance by the next big thing in the indie scene, The Vaccines.
Yet when they come on it makes no difference who you’re standing next to as the opener ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause’ I’ve Moved Your Chair’ (DSDCIMYC for you twitter heads) reminds you that although Alex Turner can be a little brash, he is most definitely one of the most talented lyricists of his generation. Each subsequent song also continues to take you into a fascinating microcosm of a genius’s psyche. ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘Crying Lightening’ get everything moving along nicely and ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ and ‘She’s Thunderstorm’ lets everyone find out who’s taken the time to listen to the new album and learn all the words. At the end of ‘She’s Lightening’ however, everything heats up and we really get to hear what we’ve all come for. ‘Brianstorm’ has the whole crowd surging forward; the pause near the end of the song is synonymous with their earlier tracks and gives everybody a much-needed second of respite before the ensuing madness of ‘The View From the Afternoon’. Then comes the majestic ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor’, the genius of Turner cemented in the line, “No Montagues or Capulets / Just banging tunes and DJ sets”.
The audience receive a relative calming down, ‘Dance Little Liar’ and ‘This House is a Circus’ subjecting us to a subtler side of The Arctic Monkeys, followed by another first album banger in the form of ‘Still Take You Home’ and a soon to be banger in the form of ‘Evil Twin’. Before you know it we’ve danced, flung our arms into the air and done our best to impersonate Alex Turner’s dulcet Sheffield tone through ‘Do Me a Favour’ and ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, and we’re at the end of their main set, finishing on ‘When the Sun Goes Down’. My feeling of euphoria is damped only by a slightly jaded feeling that there are still so many tracks that I want to hear.
Everyone knows that they would come out for an encore, a last soirée to the first stop of their Suck It and See Tour, and the atmosphere builds again to a crescendo when Alex and his band come out again. ‘Mardy Bum’ and ‘Suck It and See’ get the last out of everybody and the last song ‘505’ has everybody in a joyous sing song.
Ultimately they gave us a master class in how to play to a crowd, bring you up, slow the pace, and yet still make you feel better with every song. Give any aspiring band that you know tickets to see The Arctic Monkeys and just tell them “this is how you do it”. If I could have one criticism, and since my love for Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys must be apparent, it would be that their back catalogue is so incredibly diverse and magnificent that I was left wanting all the songs that I love to be played. OK maybe not much of a complaint, maybe I’m just being selfish. Please, believe that hype.