Review: Arctic Monkeys @ Shepherds Bush Empire 28 March 2010

When reviewing a gig I usually endeavour to post it before the following day while the memories are fresh before they become too distant and I begin to blur the lines between imagination and reality and I weave tales based on my retrospective emotional state rather than the facts.

arctic monkeys setlist

The trouble with an Arctic Monkeys gig is that at the age of 30 you begin to feel like a chaperone to the scores of 14-16-year-olds who’ve turned out for the event… so even faced with the prospect of losing out on great seats in an unreserved seating area, the thought of queueing among them like the awkward beanpole-kid that’s been held back a few school years is enough to drive anyone to drink… and so we cue the pub, and a reference to my opening paragraph.

Having seen Arctic Monkeys perform live before, the idea of a special show dedicated solely to the performance of Humbug played from top to bottom was a rather special diamond encrusted belt notch I thought, but for a first timer… a little unfortunate.

Conveniently, the opening track on Humbug is current single My Propeller so kicks the set off with a real sense of here-and-now. Playing through the familiar chronology, though some may have found too predictable, I found gave the set highlight moments to look forward to based on song preferences, without the risk of disappointment when a band doesn’t play a song you’d hoped for in normal gig circumstances… and the convenience of a timed bathroom break for the lesser ‘choice’ songs – Nice!

Overall, though short-lived, it was a marvellous affair with Pretty Visitors being the highlight for me, as well as Crying Lightning b-side and Nick Cave cover Red Right Hand closing the set as only 1 of 5 b-sides following on from Humbug’s 10 track run.

So what can I take away from last nights performance that will stay with me forever?… This may sound a little lame to most, but I’ve always wanted to see it in the flesh and unlike the first time I saw them, Matt Helders was using the Agile Beast, which if like me you’re a drummer and a Matt Helders fan, is the Holy Grail of an Arctic Monkeys gig.

Arctic Monkeys albums are available to download at Nokia Music Store or if you’ve got Comes With Music get them all for free!

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