It’s hard to comprehend that the Arctic Monkeys have been around for close to 20 years now. A series of evolutions of varying success since 2005, they’ve seemingly settled gracefully into a soft-lit middle period. Their age shows slightly these days, but the new creases form an altogether different image at times as they take Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on this Tuesday night.
Eight members dot the stage, leisurely arranged like a bistro band; pinstripe suits, maroon stylings and an art deco demeanour. Smoke twirls through the soft filament lighting, an inviting scene. Come, let ‘em take your coat, find somewhere to lounge, welcome to an evening with the Arctic Monkeys. Would you like a drink?
Everything is seemingly cast in gold, soft-textured walls panel either side of the stage in the sexiest shade of beige. They waste no time rolling out the hits early on; Brianstorm, Crying Lightning and Dancing Shoes span the years between ‘05 and ‘19. They’ve never struck as a band to dwell on the current, nostalgia is clearly a forte.
The band seem to have acquired a fine taste for light fittings, even the not-so-observant amongst us would still recognise a tranquility-esque diorama descending over, denoting the arrival of new material. Speaking of which, it’s a more considered, ballad-centric counterpoint to the scrappiness of the band’s earlier work. Four Out of Five is the first song of the evening, its locked-in groove and buzzing keys playing smoothly.
Croon has always been a key element of Alex Turner’s delivery
Croon has always been a key element of Alex Turner’s delivery, but to see him slinking around the stage sans guitar is that element in full flight. He performs lustfully over the foldback, between songs he saunters back to a trusty beer, other times he pretends to conduct the rest of the band like a drunk staggering home from the bar.
The band took a bit of a misstep back in 2013 when they convinced themselves that, indeed, it was they that were to bring back the leather jacket and coiffed hair; but Tranquility Base’s suede lounge sensibility is entirely more inviting, especially when things get flipped upside down into something nasty.
Library Pictures lives up to its final line; “ipp dipp dog-shit rock and roll”, Turner screeching into the mic with the crowds down in general admission positively devouring themselves. 505 turns to an almost gospel choir outro, which morphs into Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
Suck It and See, one of the more forgotten of their albums, finds new life here. Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair is roper anthemic and crunchy, erring almost towards grunge at times. Do I Wanna Know? is the arena rousing stomp it’s always been, and I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor leads us out to the encore.
Star Treatment to Number #1 Party Anthem to R U Mine? closing things out is an interesting selection as a send-off, but a pleasant surprise unless you were really dying to hear When The Sun Goes Down. Either way, Arctic Monkeys completely own Rod Laver for their time, However, we’re wondering how much of the heavy lifting was done by that goddamn amazing stage.