Review: Arctic Monkeys, Newcastle Arena

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Arctic Monkeys began their UK tour in the North East this week on the back of releasing their best album in years.

Opening with Do I Wanna Know, from the Mercury Prize-nominated AM, frontman Alex Turner then went into the duelling guitars of Brianstorm, always one to get fans on their feet.

The best of the Monkeys’ back catalogue was played, from Teddy Picker to Dancing Shoes, Crying Lightning to Cornerstone, with not one of them poorly delivered.

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, the song the group are best known for, got an airing as usual.

Snap Out of It is another one of the brilliant new songs and its quick tempo was a welcome addition to the night.

Perhaps the only disappointment, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, was that classic tracks 505 and A Certain Romance didn’t get played by the Sheffield four-piece, although the latter rarely does anyway.

As a result, the gig didn’t have quite the epic atmosphere that surrounded their performance at this venue in 2011, when you felt they had a point to prove.

But these are minor quibbles. The Monkeys are at the top of the game and have grown as a band over the past two years in particular.

After third album Humbug was poorly received on release in 2009, there were worries that the Monkeys had peaked and would never again reach the heights of their debut record, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

But 2011’s Suck It and See, although it included a few let downs, was a solid effort.

And now, AM is a triumph which shot to the top of the charts and has many critics labelling it the best album of 2013.

Their encore saw Turner return to the stage with acoustic guitar for the beautiful Mardy Bum, then AM release One for the Road, a tale of late night rendezvous with the opposite sex which the Monkeys specialise in.

Fans anticipated a big finish and it came with the bombastic R U Mine?, drummer Matt Helders working furiously to keep up with his bandmates.

The hysteria and hype that once accompanied the Arctic Monkeys may not be as obvious as it once was, but this lot are the best rock band this country has to offer.

It is now unquestionable.

David Allison