ARCTIC Monkeys’ show at The Don Valley Bowl in Sheffield on Saturday night was no ordinary gig, but then again they are no ordinary band.
It was the second of two back-to-back ‘homecoming’ shows inside an enormous Big Top on the area of land between Don Valley Stadium and Sheffield Arena.
Shortly after 9pm these four humble Sheffield lads shuffled onto the stage and immediately launched into The View From The Afternoon.
“Anticipation has the habit to set you up, for disappointment in evening entertainment but, tonight there’ll be some love...” bellowed Sheffield’s incumbent Poet Laureate Alex Turner during the song’s opening verse. He wouldn’t be far wrong.
The blistering start to the set continued with the furious cacophony of sound that is Brianstorm, followed hot on the heels by This House Is A Circus, very apt considering the setting.
Most bands would have taken a breather and slowed the pace following such a dynamic opening trio of songs, but not these lads.
Up next was debut album favourite Still Take You Home, and by this stage the energy in the tent had reached supernova proportions.
The furious guitar playing of Turner and Jamie Cook was complimented perfectly by the stunning rhythm provided by Nick O’Malley’s thumping bass grooves, and Matt Helders’ incredible, jaw-dropping work on the drums.
It was at around this point that one of my mates turned to me and said of Helders: “That lad must have arms like Popeye.”
It was then on to some of the stuff off the band’s latest album - Suck It And See. First up up was the anthemic and brilliantly titled single Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair, with its simplistic yet addictive chorus of “Yeah yeah yeah!”
This was followed by another new one - the short yet chaotic Library Pictures. A couple of old singles later (Teddy Picker and Crying Lightning) and we were back to the new stuff and Brick By Brick - which judging by the reaction of the thousands amassed under this giant tarpaulin is already a live favourite.
It was now time for the band, and the fans, to take a bit of a breather as the pace was slowed.
New tune The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala was followed by the infectious Cornerstone, before the band twanged their way into crowd favourite Mardy Bum.
But the respite was brief, and the intensity was cranked up yet again with the awesome I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor. Ten thousand people pogoing around like mad. A joy to behold.
Suck It And See opener She’s Thunderstorms was next, followed by the bonkers yet ace Pretty Visitors - an ode to gatherings such as this .
If You Were There, Beware and Do Me A Favour, in truth, didn’t add much to the set, but these were minor gripes.
It was then down to a couple of album closers to bring this part of the set to an end - That’s Where You’re Wrong, from the new album, and the magical and spine-tingling 505.
At this point the band trotted off stage, and bizarrely and foolishly a few of their acolytes made for the exits too.
Moments later and the boys were back on for the encore, and what an encore - When The Sun Goes Down followed by Fluorescent Adolescent. To say the place was ‘electric’ would be a massive understatement.
All that was left now would be for Turner to tell the crowd: “We’ll have to do it again sometime. We’ll leave you with this one...”
At which point the familiar drum rumble of the intro to A Certain Romance filled the tent like the sound of a distant thunderstorm and thousands of hoarse voices gleefully belted out every single word of this lyrical masterpiece, a perfect way to bring this exhilarating night to a close.
As the buoyant hordes filed out into the surrounding streets afterwards the sheer joy on peoples faces could have lit up the whole of the Steel City.
This special night confirmed two things. Arctic Monkeys love Sheffield, and Sheffield loves Arctic Monkeys.
By Ben Green
SLIDESHOW - Click the play button to view pictures. Photography by Glenn Ashley.