In the end, it wasn’t the past that mattered, but the future. Stood onstage at Finsbury Park, Arctic Monkeys are all slicked-back cool and razor gang tough, Alex Turner staring out under shades – not at what was, but what could be.
First, though, came Tame Impala. Given the almost impossible task of pleasing a partisan crowd, the Australian band certainly gave it their all. Battled hardened after the global string of dates which followed ‘Elephant’, the band’s set is lengthy, and jam-heavy.
Yet it retains a taut sense of direction. While a little on the quiet side, the performance does manage to connect with tens of thousands of fans with one band on their mind. Ending with a long, fugged-up rendition of ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, you are left with the feeling that Tame Impala will grow to command crowds such as these. Just not today.
Arriving to enormous cheers from the packed Finsbury Park crowd, Arctic Monkeys plunge track into ‘Do I Wanna Know?’. It’s a brave choice, foregoing a classic in favour of something rather fresher. But it works a charm, with thousands of fans screaming back each word.
Heading into ‘Snap Out Of It’ and ‘Arabella’, it’s a set heavy on their recent ‘AM’ material, their Los Angeles meditations. ‘Crying Lightning’ follows ‘Library Pictures’, with both band and crowd clearly relishing every moment.
Any signs of second-night fatigue are quickly brushed aside, with Turner flashing a cheeky grin before an explosive rendition of the band’s debut Domino single, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’.
‘Number One Party Anthem’ is literally that, before ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’ draws down the curtain on the first part of the set. With rain clouds swiftly drawing in, fans are perhaps a little impatient in anticipating the encore. Yet when it comes it contains something a little special.
The Arctics welcome Miles Kane to the stage for ‘505’, and the Scouse singer sticks around. Drawing together, Turner re-ignites The Last Shadow Puppets for a memorable rendition of ‘Standing Next To Me’.
With his bandmates emerging from the wings, Turner finds his second wind. Blasting through ‘One For The Road’, the night then finishes with ‘R U Mine?’ and an emotional wave to the crowd.
It’s a strange feeling, watching perhaps Britain’s biggest guitar band play their biggest show to date and focus entirely on the present. Old warhorses such as ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco’ are nowhere to be seen, with Arctic Monkeys looking entirely into the future. What now? Well, the UK’s done. Next, the world.
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Words: Robin Murray
Photo: Zackery Michael