The Arctic Monkeys performed at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, on Wednesday, June 14th. Their performance screamed like it was pulled out of a different decade with hazy light leaks and Super Max8 vibes video recording equipment for the big screens, the whole night had that soft glam and mystery of rock and roll, with art deco-inspired circle screens and a half moon on either side.
When Alex sang, “Be cruel to me because I’m a fool for you”, the grain with the looping image of Alex on the screen really took you back in time. This was a show to remember, and the production was a masterclass of aesthetics.
I’ve heard reports post-pandemic that Arctic Monkeys’ performances have had an uninviting air to their performances like they were slightly jared and didn’t want to be there. I wondered at the time if people forgot what and who the Arctic Monkeys are – they are the truest form of rockstars; they could have been in the 80s, the ‘2000s or in the ‘3000s.
Secondly, maybe there were past performances that took place, which could have tainted their experience. But I can confirm they were on top form. Ok, the songs don’t sound exactly the same, but then bands evolve and develop over time, and they are getting older and putting their current twist on their original songs.
It did fall short in one area… the setlist. As they were about two-thirds of the way into their tour, they made it clear that their setlist was going to change every night. I was excited to hear what they were going to play, especially as I was lucky enough to see them in my teens at the AM tour.
So this was going to be a great way to compare the performances if I’m honest, it basically was the AM tour – I get it was an ionic tour, and I loved how they closed the night with “I Wanna Be Yours,” “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor” and “R U Mine?”, but I was hoping to hear more live from The Car.
It was a great show, truly, even with a few technical issues, like a delay in lighting (but that’s me being really picky). I think one of the reasons that the AM Tour is so iconic and will stand the test of time is that performances are so brilliant when listened to live.
I think a few songs from The Car could do the same as they only played 3 songs from it, and I would have loved to hear “The Car” or “I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am”. Alex did comment on this interview with Zane Lowe, he said that it’s taken weeks to start playing new songs in the early part of their performance.
I want to be clear, they were on top form! It was an epic performance; they know how to put on a show, and it is well worth the price. Performing at the Ageas Bowl meant that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. And I need to give a special mention to the people that booked into The Hilton and got to watch the show from their balcony… you are truly living your best lives.
There are very few songs and bands that I remember where I was when I first heard them. But Arctic Monkey, I can remember clear as day… “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor” on the train for the first time with my friends, probably year 7? I believe that The Arctic Monkeys have become their own institution.
Side note – if you ever get the chance to see The Hives live, jump at that opportunity. The Hives were one of the support acts for The Arctic Monkeys, and they were insane on stage and had so much crowd interaction – an excellent decision on the support. They really got the people going.
Words + photography by Cydnee Brook