After announcing that Reading and Leeds festival seemed like “the perfect place to leave things for a while” there’s a definite air of poignance about Arctic Monkeys’ headline set for Saturday night at Reading festival. Perhaps some surprises are in store, an emotional speech from Alex Turner if we’re lucky?
The crowd are out in full force, with excited faces stretching back far further than Queens Of The Stone Age on Friday night, all aching to get closer to these god-like figures behind the dry ice and bright lights.
As if there were any other possibility, the quartet open on ‘Do I Wanna Know’ to a bellow of “duh duh duh duhhh”‘s and plough on through ‘Brianstorm’, ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Arabella’.
It soon becomes clear that the enormous crowd is split into distinct tiers: tier one, located in the front and middle of the crowd, is for the hardcore- singing along loyally to each and every song, teary-eyed and lips trembling- even slightly more obscure songs such as ‘Library Pictures’ are heart-wrenchingly beautiful for those in tier one.
Tier two is for those who “absolutely loved their early stuff but lost interest after Humbug”… These guys are selective in their karaoke moments and will only relent to the bands earliest material- ‘Teddy Picker’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ are met with delight by tier one and two. You can find tier two around the fringes of the middle of the crowd.
Finally tier three, located at the very back if the crowd and dotted around the edges sat on foldable stools are those who have recently purchased AM and think that Arctic Monkeys have real potential to go far. ‘Knee Socks’ and ‘Snap Out Of It’ are particular favourites of tier three.
Arctic Monkeys tick all of the ‘must play’ boxes- ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’, ‘Dance Floor’ and ‘R U Mine’ are all played out, but somehow, it feels like just that- a tick box the band have obliged to stick to. With the band racing through track after track with little to no interaction in between, there’s a constant distance between the crowd and the Monkeys. Turner’s attention seems to be less on the mass of adoring fans and more on the state of his silky barnet.
When the band finish their set fifteen minutes early, there is a list a mile long of songs they could have played to make the gig feel like a proper send off, like the last gig in England before they take a break, rather than a contractual obligation. Perhaps there was plenty of sentiment, perhaps emotions we’re running high for the band, perhaps Leeds, truly their last UK gig, will be a true spectacle, but it certainly didn’t translate tonight.
Arctic Monkeys’ set sounded great, but felt a little tired.