When I found out I was going to see the Antarctic Monkeys at the O2 Academy in Leeds I asked Matt Wood to come along with his keen eye for the band. What follows is our joint effort:
When I think about cover bands, I usually don’t get my hopes too high. I understand the desire to see bands who aren’t around any more being covered by the next best thing. As with The Beatles. But when it comes to bands who are still headlining festivals… I wasn’t so sure. Regardless of my pessimism, I was hoping for a good laugh in the best case scenario. But with the Antarctic Monkeys, I should definitely have raised my expectations.
It was almost a sell out gig, with the odd chancer getting tickets on the door as they saw the crowds surrounding the O2 Academy. I had to shimmy my way to get closer to the front because the venue was packed out, which was a great surprise.
The crowd was younger than I expected and all were eagerly waiting in anticipation, singing along to the Lumineers and The Kooks as they blasted through the speakers. They kept this energy throughout the whole set. The atmosphere was honestly incredible. A new generation of Arctic Monkeys fans with their snapchat filters at the ready. Throughout the set, they were forming a circle pit before the devilish drop of Don’t Sit Down Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair and thrived on the more hectic early releases.
The show opens with the unveiling of a replica MONKEYS sign behind the drum kit. It illuminates as the band joins the stage. Sadly, there is no mirrorball, but we can let this one slide.
Fluorescent Adolescent gets the ball well and truly rolling through the years, alongside Leave Before the Lights Come On: a much welcomed rarity and described as the ‘Black Sheep’ by Alex Turner. The result is a tight and nostalgic rendition that hasn’t featured in a true AM setlist since the late noughties (2009).
While the setlist might have an extra toe planted in the early releases from the Monkeys, we do get a taste of The Car through Body Paint and Antarctic Monkeys frontman Dean Reynolds has adapted Turner’s latest selection of stage antics and mannerisms almost perfectly. They’ve even perfected the seamless transition between Teddy Picker & Crying Lightning and the foray into Black Sabbath’s War Pigs during Arabella, which have become signature moves for Turner and co.
A highlight for me had to be Mardy Bum. The crowd leads the vocals as the band just plays the instrumental, a true unity of Monkeys fans that could have (almost) brought a tear to a nostalgic eye.
While the real Monkeys are becoming more obtuse and experimental, they of course become harder to replicate and it’s no doubt something the Antarctic Monkeys will have to grapple with themselves. But for a true dose of nostalgia while we no doubt wait another several years for a follow-up to The Car, this really hit the spot.
The set was a good hour and a half, so you definitely got more for your money as far as hearing every single banger goes. They didn’t leave anyone disappointed as they joined us for an encore with I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.
If I saw a snippet of this gig on someone’s Instagram story, I wouldn’t have second guessed that they were at an Arctic Monkeys set and would have got the ultimate FOMO. Definitely one to catch if they’re in town again.
It’s not often a tribute band can hold a candle to the real deal, but The Antarctic Monkeys is one of those who do.
Photography by Maddie Armstrong.