Arctic Monkeys solidified their position as one of the best rock bands in the world at Ashton gate, Bristol show
Rock ‘n’ roll is dead. A phrase I hear chucked around like a discarded chocolate bar wrapper, only to blow onto the next person to repeat. It’s a phrase that brings me great agitation as I purse my lips to not blurt out the many COUNTLESS rock bands around today, who are still keeping the spirit well and truly alive.
I wish I could have brought these said people to the opening night of the Arctic Monkeys show at Bristol this week. Not only did Arctic Monkeys play an eye-wateringly epic show (we will get to that later) but support acts The Hives and The Mysterines equally impressed. The football ground for Bristol City FC, Ashton Gate was transformed into a colosseum of rock ‘n’ roll goodness, that acted as a reminder to all in attendance and any one within an earshot that rock music is alive, it is strong, and Arctic Monkeys are true masters of the genre, in every sense of the word.
Opening the night was the Liverpool based The Mysterines, fronted by the vocal powerhouse Lia Metcalfe, who, as always blew the dust out of the fast-growing crowd. The band are amassing an impressive back catalogue of music that translates into a live setting perfectly. It was especially spine tingling in an arena set up, the pure visceral feeling of their music was felt on magnitude. With each show the young band appear to grow, growing in confidence of their sound, learning to harness it and wield it like true professionals. There is no doubt they’re destined for arena tours themselves.
Next up was the notorious mad men from Sweden, The Hives. A band that could arguably be a headliner in their own right, what a treat to have them on this bill. The veterans came out swinging with the same energy that they became infamous for back in the early 2000’s. Opening with their ferocious new single ‘Bogus Operandi’ the band sent the crowd into a frenzy, it was wildly infectious. Across their set the audience was treated to the bands classics such as ‘Tick Tick Boom’, ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’, and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, all of which was eaten up by the audience, young and old. As expected front man Pelle Almqvist was in ripe form with consistent audience interactions, throwing himself around the stage, and generally being a force to be reckoned with. The Hives have been in the game since 1993 and they still have the chops to put on an unforgettable show. It’s hard to imagine how the headliner could follow this band, but the Arctic Monkeys did that and more.
Just before Arctic Monkeys walked on stage there was a palpable feeling throughout Ashton Gate, one of pure excitement. The moment we had all been waiting for was upon us and to say that the band didn’t disappoint would be the world’s largest understatement. The band swaggered onto stage just as the sun was setting, all donned in their 70’s inspired outfits. The orange haze, matched with their outfits and Alex Turners oozing cool was enough to throw you back to the velvet era.
Kicking their set off was a song they’ve not played in ten years, ‘Mardy Bum’. An old fan favourite that no one was expecting to hear, especially not as the opener. The entire arena exploded into cheers and screams, singing back every word. Without a moment’s hesitation the band then burst into the famous chords of ‘‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’, the hard-hitting riff echoed throughout, bringing a real dose of rock to the bands live set, at this point it was it was clear as day to what sort of night they had planned for us, it was one of epic proportions.
Throughout the set the band played what can only be described as a dream set list that spanned their entire back catalogue. From ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ all the way through to ‘The Car’, there truly was something for every Arctic Monkeys fan. Highlights came in the form of unique takes on ‘505’ and the pure Beatles-esque ‘Body Paint’, a track that escalated into one of the greatest moments I have witnessed from a rock band. The track progressed from the crooning vocals of Alex Turner into a full-on assault of guitars, with Alex leading the way with ripping a massive solo, throwing himself around, almost becoming one with his guitar, it was eye-wateringly amazing. A true goosebumps moment that left this music fan’s jaw agape.
The lights came down after this track and it was hard to believe it was over. It was such an emotional ending and one that left me completely satisfied. Although the encore was guaranteed, if it had ended there, it would not have been a problem.
After a quick couple of minutes the band returned and flew into ‘Sculptures of Anything Goes’, a foreboding song that saw the entire ground shake with the bass. It was awe-inspiring. Following this was the expected ‘I Bet you Look Good On The Dancefloor’, which sent the unfaltering crowd into an utter hysteria. Then finally, finishing the night was ‘R U Mine?’, an exciting end to what was truly one of the greatest shows I have ever witnessed.
The Arctic Monkeys are truly one of the greatest to ever do it and after their show in Bristol I say that with complete confidence. To be a part of this audience was nothing short of an honour and a privilege and a moment that will go with me till the die that I die.
Guitar music is in safe hands and Arctic Monkeys are the new custodians of it.