Arctic Monkeys surprise us with beautiful live album from the Royal Albert Hall
With just over a month notice, Arctic Monkeys made an unexpected announcement across social media in October. A new record! Now this wasn’t just any record, but rather Live at the Royal Albert Hall from their 2018 performance raising money for War Child UK. This album gives fans the opportunity to relive, or experience for the first time, the incredible atmosphere created at an Arctic Monkeys gig.
Since Arctic Monkeys are not particularly active on social media, the knowledge that they had returned by an unexpected announcement drove fans wild, with statements that the whirlwind of the year had supposedly been “saved”. But that was not all, all the proceeds made from purchases of the album go straight to Was Child UK – the same as for the live concert.
To appreciate the record fully, listening to it in order is highly recommended where the albums flows between tracks as there are no cuts from the concert allowing you to get a grasp of the transition and emotions intended to be felt on the evening between songs. It allows you to recreate the experience of the tension building within the silences between tracks, the silence where the audience fill with energy, excitement and eagerness waiting patiently for what comes. This silence is only from the band, where The Royal Albert Hall fills with tension as the crowd cheers, screams and shouts throughout the evening alongside the occasional comments made by lead singer, Alex Turner, such as “got one last question for you” to transition between ‘The View from the Afternoon’ to ‘R U Mine?‘. The subtlety and shortness of Turner’s comment is highly effective where audience are instantly guessing what will be the next, and very last, track.
The setlist covers hits from all 6 albums, opening with ‘Four Stars Out of Five‘ – a gentler song from their discography – which cleverly allows for the initial excitement of the band’s appearance to calm down in preparation for the rowdy, raw and riotous nature of ‘Brianstorm‘, after, to take control of the crowd. From the recording, we hear fans going crazy at ‘Brianstorm‘ where they even sing along to the instrumental introduction – which is rather hard to avoid. Early into the album, we hear ‘505‘. With the studio recording and prior performances featuring solo artist and Turner’s bandmate from The Last Shadow Puppets, Miles Kane, on guitar the audience speculate a special appearance. While Miles Kane does not make an appearance, Cameron Avery from Tame Impala plays lead guitar allowing for the opportunity for a new, alternative interpretation of this part.
Overall, the setlist generally focalises on album 6 (AM) and 7 (TBHC) before the encore closing with the infamous ‘R U Mine?‘. Even after the encore, the atmosphere continues hearing the crowds shouting at the end of ‘R U Mine?‘ screaming and begging for one last song just before the house lights come on. It is surprising how little variety between the songs chosen from Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino (such as ‘Science Fiction’ which frequently gets performed) but it can be presumed that it was decided on purpose to include very few in the hope that the same audience will wish to buy tickets for the actual TBHC tour later that year – where the tracks which were played act as an insight and preview into how the new album will sound live.
Baring in mine this 2018 concert was the first live performance we had from Arctic Monkeys since 2013, to accompany the release of AM, this record is proof that Arctic Monkeys are beyond excellent at putting on a show (even after about 5 years), where just listening to the live performance is enough to get you up and dancing along reminiscing of pre-covid times.
Words by Lily Croft