21:00, Friday night, London.
The surroundings look like a Thunderbirds version of the future, smoke clouds fill the air and it’s been raining lager for half an hour yet the good folk of Earls Court couldn’t be happier. As the cheers go up and the lights go down, transporting the arena into bleak darkness in the process, this was a gig for the here and now plucked from a bygone era.
‘Do I Wanna Know’, ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Dancing Shoes’, ‘Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’, ‘Teddy Picker’, ‘Crying Lightning’; As a collection of opening songs, it doesn’t get much better. It seems then that Arctic Monkeys, following in the tyre tracks of the superb AM, are bang on form. Finally appearing comfortable, not necessarily with where they come from but with the fame that has encompassed them for the past 8 years or so, they come across as a collective in the peak of their career, showmen till the very end.
Yet, oddly, it wasn’t all about the boys from Sheffield, this was also a love letter to the past. Sadly Earls Court will soon be diminished for an ‘exciting’ property development (does London really need more flats?) but going to an event here still feels exhilarating. It may look like a relic from the 70s, it may need a paint job, but it’s these very things that give the place its essence, its soul. It’s still wonderfully ginormous, imposing and exciting, and coming here still feels like an event, a step into a futuristic world that you don’t get to experience that often.
To move forward sometimes you have to go back. Thanks to an old venue and a band initially broken through Myspace, the future of British guitar music has never looked so exciting.