Arctic Monkeys at Forest Hills Stadium 7/24 Reviewed
Alex Turner’s shaved head and the rest of the Monkeys donned the stage as the hot summer sun was going down and I was surrounded by peers, kids there with their parents, and people who were parents. The band’s long career—16 years—has collected a group of diehards and casual listeners, but they have enough pull to have sold out the 14,000 seat venue.
I have enjoyed their career ever since Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, even the controversial AM (some consider it the new “Unknown Pleasures” with that squiggle logo taking over Tumblr, first tattoo-getters’ inner wrists, and your local Urban Outfitters) but I didn’t listen to the new Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino much before the show.
They opened with “Four Out Of Five” which felt appropriate for the start of a tour promoting the recent release. Their energy was immediate, and when they stepped out on to the stage it was clear they were naturals, even after not touring recently. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the song itself as I was the crowds’ reaction and my own as well. I had a rush of nostalgia and felt a peak of excitement for what was coming next.
“Brianstorm” was next, the first track off their best record, Favourite Worst Nightmare. It was a rush to hear it live, with the gritty nearly-post-punk instrumentals backing Turner’s heavily accented but progressively matured voice. It was one of my favorite performances of the set, likely because of the memory of listening to the album for the first time and listening to the track on repeat.
There were a few lulls in the set, but it was still enjoyable because they played tracks off Humbugand Suck It And See, which was unexpected because I only expected them to play songs off their main four albums. It picked back up when they did “505”, another personal favorite song of theirs that everyone in my immediate vicinity also knew all the words to.
Another highlight was “Do Me a Favour”, which picked the energy back up. It was a well-balanced setlist transitioning between crooning ballads, radio hits and the more grungey tone they had in the beginning of their career.
Songs that I don’t love sounded better live and have grown on me the day after, including the oversaturated “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and “Do I Wanna Know?” Hearing them in a live setting gave me a new appreciation for them and I don’t really view them as made-for-radio as much as I did when they first came out.
The end of the set was very strong, with the punchy “Arabella” being the last song pre-encore and them coming out to do “Star Treatment”, “Is This It” (a Strokes cover), and “R U Mine?” They left on a high note, the lights up on the stadium and Turner singing the last chorus a capella with the crowd. It felt intimate in a crowd of 14,000, with his voice cutting through and as they began to walk off stage, the crowd was erupting with cheers and applause.
People including myself waited years to see the Arctic Monkeys, and have stuck with them through their many metamorphoses. It has been worth it, to see them grow and change and even if there are fans of theirs for only certain eras, when they ask us R U Mine? the answer remains yes.