Just specks in the distance at Glastonbury, Arctic Monkeys were large and in charge as they played at close quarters on the day they released their fifth album.
Phase five of the quartet’s existence is their fullest transformation yet. The indie discos of Sheffield seem a world away now that all of them are based in LA and making slinky, sexually charged rock ‘n’ roll on AM.
Frontman Alex Turner has become a skinny Teddyboy sporting shades, a wide collar and a slick quiff which he regularly sculpts with a comb in his back pocket.
It’s a long way from the band who once looked like they couldn’t bear to be looked at, as though they wished they hadn’t made the fastest-selling debut album ever. But Turner still gives little of himself, overcoming that early awkwardness by playing at being the big rock star.
Here his hip wiggles and sneers came with a wink, and his asides were delivered in either an American twang or as a crisp English gent. He also had his wordplay to hide behind. “Been wondering if your heart’s still open and if so I wanna know what time it shuts,” he crooned over the thick riffing of the recent single Do I Wanna Know?
When he did play it straight, he mostly sang about sex. On the bass-heavy groove of One for the Road he was at a girl’s house post-party waiting for the others to leave. The guitar blast of Arabella depicted a woman who “Wraps her lips round a Mexican Coke, makes you wish that you were the bottle”.
Phwoar indeed. With tight guitar work and Matt Helders’ mighty drums backing him up, it’s no wonder he had to take his jacket off. Back in the arenas next month, thousands more fans will be hot under the collar soon.
Arctic Monkeys play Earls Court on Oct 25 and 26 (0870 903 9033, eco.co.uk)