When live music has faded to a distant memory as the months continue to drift by, the longing for that infectious energy that can only be created within the confines of a sweaty venue is only getting greater with each passing day. Musicians have tried their hardest to recreate that magic since March but, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, nothing comes close to the real thing.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to forge that authentic atmosphere on Zoom but, after nine months of no live music, Arctic Monkeys have delivered the best replica you could possibly find right now. Live at the Royal Albert Hall captures Sheffield’s favourite sons taking to the stage at London’s world-famous Royal Albert Hall in 2018 around the release of Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino and performed in front of a more intimate crowd than they had done in years.
The show, held in 2018, was in aid of War Child UK, a specialist charity for children affected by conflict. They aim to reach children as early as possible when conflict breaks out and stay to support them through their recovery — keeping them safe, helping them learn and cope with their experiences, and equipping them with skills for the future. They also offer counselling and psycho-social support for vulnerable children through specialist helplines, and campaign for changes to policies and practices to support children in conflict, working with children and young people themselves to demand their rights.
The June evening was a historic one for Arctic Monkeys in a number of ways. They not only performed tracks from the recently releasedTranquility Base Hotel and Casino for the very first time, but it also marked their first show in the UK since Leeds Festival in 2014. Most importantly, however, their career-spanning set is a timely reminder as to why they are still the most important band of the 21st Century.
The show starts in triumphant style with a gorgeous opening rendition of ‘Four Starts Out Of Five’ which gets the Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino era truly up and running. They then turned the clock back a decade and burst through thunderous performances of ‘Brianstorm‘ and ‘Crying Lighting’ before shifting the gears into fifth album gear for ‘Do I Wanna Know?’.
Over the course of the 20 song set, there’s not one single dud and it makes for a thrilling listening experience. The new songs are met with great excitement and are given the same kind of ovation as classics such ‘Pretty Visitors’, a number which always gets the fans out of their seats. Arctic Monkeys have grown up simultaneously with a large chunk of their audience, a fanbase which has traversed through their own long-haired Humbug phase or greaseball AM period themselves. It is that connection with their fans that other bands lack. Live at the Royal Albert Hall is a whirlwind 90-minute experience that captures the first 15-years of their story.
The encore saw the band play the magnificent ‘Star Treatment’ for the first time before stepping things up a few thousand notches and delivering a pounding performance of ‘The View From The Afternoon’. Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Nick O’Malley then left the 5,000-strong crowd on their knees pining for more after ending on a riotous rendition of ‘R U Mine’.
The record is as close as you’re going to get to a greatest hits album from Arctic Monkeys and the live element gives it that extra special something. You can feel the tangible energy that’s created from their fans which makes its way on to the album make it one of the all-time definitive live albums and momentarily makes you feel like you’re there at the Royal Albert Hall.
Live at the Royal Albert Hall will quite rightly earn its place in folklore as the years go on and people remember Arctic Monkeys for being one of Britain’s greatest. There’s something about the intimate experience of listening to a live album with your headphones in that reigns supreme from half-gazing at a live stream on YouTube and Arctic Monkeys have just answered everyone’s prayers with this beautiful antidote for 2020.