Last night, Hillsborough Park bore witness to a historic milestone as the Arctic Monkeys returned to their roots in Sheffield, commemorating two decades since their very first gig at The Grapes. The second of two triumphant homecoming shows, supported by The Mysterines and The Hives, was both a celebration of the band’s promising beginnings and their now legendary status, drawing together 35,000 fans in a charged atmosphere of anticipation.
As the sun set and the stage ignited in golden tones the crowd’s attention was drawn to tonight’s opening track. What would it be? We expect Setlist FM must be experiencing some exceedingly high hits over the last few weeks as the bands setlist has been the talk of the town, the opening tracks doubly so. Shortly before 9pm we were given the answer as the exhilarating opening notes of Brianstorm radiated out through the crowd like a wildfire.
It’s a meticulously crafted setlist designed to take the audience on a journey through the band’s discography, weaving together surprises and iconic tracks that ignited a deep sense of pride within the home crowd and one that shows a growing acceptance by the band to embrace the past more willingly than they may have done previously, with From the Ritz to the Rubble from their debut taking its place as surprise inclusion in the set.
There’s a bit of a “couple for you, a couple for us” vibe as they effortlessly transitioned from classics like Do I Wanna Know? and Fluorescent Adolescent to the acclaimed tracks from their latest album, The Car. Pleasingly, the new songs received an overwhelmingly positive response, with the crowd eagerly singing along word for word, even if slightly out of time thanks to Alex’s minor live alterations that kept us on our toes. There’d Better Be a Mirrorball produces a sea of raised arms and illuminated phone lights, a very modern symbol of unity and shared experience. Lucky thing too seeing as the evening saw a Mirrorball malfunction with it failing to drop on cue and light up spots of the crowd, speaking like a true Yorkshire lad, Turner laughed this off with “gimme me mirrorball“. Body Paint took on a new life during the live performance, culminating in a captivating extended jam session between Turner and guitarist Jamie Cook. More jams please.
One of the best record to live transformations goes to Sculptures of Anything Goes, where intensified synths reverberated through the crowd delivering a proper sonic experience you could feel in your bones. Unsurprisingly however it was the songs from the monumental album AM that incited the loudest cheers and enthusiastic reactions. The timeless impact of tracks like Do I Wanna Know resonated across generations, prompting entire families to jump and dance together in joyful unison. Just in front of us a dad lofted his teenage son onto his shoulders “the first time since he was 4!” so he could record 505 on his phone as his dad belted out every line beneath him. His son wasn’t born when it came out, the dad was in his twenty’s and obsessed with a cool new band from Sheffield. The Arctic Monkeys have become a band that transcends time, bridging gaps between generations and leaving an indelible mark on music history.
Frontman Alex Turner, once a shy figure on stage, has transformed into a captivating performer over the years. Radiating confidence and charisma, he commanded the platform with an electrifying stage presence, even relinquishing his guitar at times to fully embrace his role as a showman / lounge singer, including taking to the piano (even if it was just for a “sit down in Sheffield”). Having been at the Manchester show only a week ago there was something looser, strutty-er, showy-er if you will about the frontman tonight. The comfort of being at home perhaps? Or maybe a bit of a warm up with one eye on their Glastonbury headline slot in the distance. Either way, Jarvis make room because Sheffield has a new suited-booted swooned over star.
It’s been a remarkable journey for the Arctic Monkeys’, exemplified by these Hillsborough Park homecoming shows, from their humble beginnings at a small Sheffield pub to commanding a stage that drew tens of thousands of fans. The universal adoration displayed by the audience mirrored the band’s significance and influence on a global scale. With each song, the Arctic Monkeys solidified their status as one of the biggest and most important bands of our time, leaving no doubt that their legacy will endure for years to come.
Photo gallery by Alex Cropper. All rights reserved.
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