The rules for the evening are simple: no cell phones, no recordings, and no prejudice, except for a few. Arctic Monkeys are back in New York City, playing a headline show for the first time since 2018, and since they’ve been teasing tracks from their upcoming album ‘The Car’ in the month leading up to the show, there’s a chance they’ll be sold-out ticket holders are about to experience new songs live for the first time that only their memory will witness.
Moments after the band takes the stage to the applause of 3,000 gamblers, the mood is set. “Don’t be emotional, that’s not like you / Yesterday is still leaking through the roof”, sings Alex Turner to the delight of the spectators. It’s the band’s first time performing the song live, but the crowd sings along to every word of “There’d Better be A Mirroball,” hitting every note of the sultry song as if it were an ingrained single. As the song’s title echoes through the historic theater at the final chorus, a huge disco ball descends from the ceiling, transforming the Brooklyn venue with the flickering lights of a 1970s lounge.
Their most recent shows have largely been festival sets, and from the smiles Turner exchanges with bandmates Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Nick O’Malley, they’re thrilled to be playing in a room of their own die-hard fans. . The audience, ready to travel in time to the band’s first hits and hopefully sink their ears into unreleased sounds, react ecstatically at every moment. While the opening keys of ‘One Point Perspective’ from ‘Tranquility Base…’ play, the fans sway in unison and the band grins from ear to ear.
When ‘Snap Out Of It’ kicks off, we can safely say that the band could go on without performing any new songs, and the audience would be happy to play along. Hits from the ‘AM’ era, ‘Arabella’ and ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’, light up the crowd before ‘The Ultracheese’ delivers delight. But the real treats come after that, as the band rolls out another new song.
“So predictable, I know what you’re thinking”, accuses Turner in the slow-burning guitar-backed ‘Body Paint’. “Still a trail of body paint around your legs, arms and face.” he sings. At the end he repeats the name of the song, a warning of what could be the next single in the ‘The Car’ era.
The forward-facing moment quickly falls back in “Brianstorm,” “Potion Approaching,” and “That’s Where You’re Wrong,” distracting fans with the Monkeys’ stacked discography before there’s time to think about the new song . “Do I want to know?” goes off like a firecracker and shoots through the cathedral-like ceilings as soon as the first guitar riffs are recognized.
‘I Ain’t Quite Where I Think I Am’, a fresh track from ‘The Car’ that the band has played only a handful of times, has received a familiar reception from the tight-knit audience. Then, in a surprising moment, the band throws “From the Ritz to The Rubble” onto the setlist, with Turner saying, “We weren’t going to do this one,” right before it starts. The evening seems to peak with ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ and ‘RU Mine?’ towards the end of the set, but those high-octane moments are quickly overshadowed once the band gets back on stage for the encore.
Single, with only a spotlight and keys to keep him company, Tuner introduces ‘Mr Schwartz’ for the first time, a steadily building ballad with rousing images of “dance shoes” and “velvet suits”and the keen realization that theredamn not one thing you can do.” Before the final curtain, the band turns the quintessential upbeat encore, leaving fans with the heartfelt buzzing songs “Cornerstone” and “505” before walking away.
The evening feels like proof of some truths. The first is that without cell phones, you can convince a crowd to attend for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The second is that through their discography, the Sheffield band has slowly embodied a kind of timelessness, not only in their tributes to retro sounds, but also in the way each era of their music, with its unparalleled lyricism and refusal to rest on its laurels. to rest somehow connect seamlessly with the next.
The most important truth, however, is that despite some fans and critics’ heartfelt desire to lean back on the sounds of their bygone eras, the band is very adept at evolving while also showing respect for their roots. No soul witnessing these special moments can say otherwise.
Arctic Monkeys played:
‘It would be better to have a mirror ball’
“Why do you only call me when you’re high?”
‘Rest base Hotel + Casino’
‘The Ultra Cheese’
‘Drink is approaching’
‘You’re wrong there’
“Do I want to know?”
‘I’m not quite where I think I am’
‘From the Ritz to the Rubble’
‘I bet you look good on the dance floor’
‘Are you mine?’