Reading and Leeds Festival occupies a special place in Arctic Monkeys’ hearts. The Sheffield rockers first headlined the festival in 2009 and again in 2014. This is the arena they traveled to as young punters, and where they later played some number of impressive and career-defining sets.
Perhaps the most anticipated UK festival performance of the summer, today’s Arctic Monkeys fever is intense in Reading. With punters on their feet, waiting outside the Main Stage East as early as 11 a.m. to be close enough for a good view, there is little doubt about the cultural significance of this hot ticket.
The first live show on UK soil in four years for the band, they offer the crowd a series of select belts, while cleverly inserting some deep cuts, resulting in a vigorous and memorable live show. The sought-after guitar band demonstrates that the spark and energy for which they became known twenty years ago is as strong, as fierce as ever. Showcasing the depth of their catalog, the set is put together with a hungry fan base in mind.
singer and leader Alex Turn takes the quartet through a set of eighteen booming, peppy tracks and a three-song encore. They launch events evocatively with the resounding sound ‘Do I want to know’ to a gigantic cheer of a welcome from a buzzing audience. It’s a soulful opening moment just as they launch into the thundering, throbbing beats of ‘Brianstorm’ and the melodious ‘Snap Out Of It’. Staying on a similar emotional point with ‘Crying Lightning’ the mood then rises with ‘Teddy Picker’ from 2007’s ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’.
Continually feeding Reading’s ecstatic fans, punters sing, essentially, to highlight Turner’s clever lyricism that seems forever etched in a wall of fame unseen – or symbolic – for the band. At no point does the crowd stand still, it seems, and the deep love for Arctic Monkeys is strong, as the whole thing leaves a deep yet engrossing sting.
A voice of creative authority, Turner’s earthy, enigmatic voice sounds rich, and with precision, the crowd eagerly sings the poignant guitar riffs during songs such as “The View From the Afternoon”, “I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor”, “Arabella’ and last track of the encore ‘RU Mine?’. Crisply, debuts in Zürich, new song “I’m not quite where I think I am” gets the green light of approval.
Two decades on Arctic Monkeys continue to build on their list of accolades, and this performance adds yet another watershed and historic moment to their rock’s greatest legacy.
Words: Susan Hansen
Photography: Ben McQuaide
Arctic Monkeys Reading Festival 2022 Set List:
- do i wanna know
- Regain consciousness
- Weeping Lightning
- teddy picker
- This is where you are wrong
- Approaching Potion
- The afternoon view
- corner stone
- Pretty visitors
- Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
- Why do you only call me when you’re high?
- I’m not quite where I think I am
- do me a favor
- From the Ritz to the rubble
- I bet you look good on the dancefloor
- Unique point of view
- Are you mine?