Less than a year since they topped the bill at Glastonbury and kicked off the most successful spell of a never less than glittering career, Arctic Monkeys opened London’s outdoor gig season with a festival-sized show all their own.
Now based in LA and selling nicely in the US, hoovering up awards for their fifth and very likely finest album, AM, the quartet have nothing to prove.
This seemed less like their Knebworth than one more giant gig. Frontman Alex Turner may have abandoned his early shyness for the quiff and sneer of a real rock star, but he’s still a closed book on stage. He mostly left long silences between songs while instruments were switched.
The setlist featured the same songs in the same order as they’ve been taking to the rest of the world, from Crying Lightning’s dense thunder to the stately shimmer of 505, suggesting a tight ship that could benefit from more spontaneity.
In the only unplanned moment, Turner returned alone for the encore for an acoustic oldie, A Certain Romance. “I feel like playing an old song on me own,” he said, finishing a fag, “ ’Cause I’m only human.”
An ordinary guy who now sits on such a formidable back catalogue that songs from no single album dominated, no space for duds or filler. It could have been just another night for the band, but for the thousands in Finsbury Park, from the front row to those peeping over the fence from the playground, songs like these make Arctic Monkeys the best band we have.