Arctic Monkeys are officially back. Their first album in five years comes out in about 48 hours, and they're currently on their first tour in four years. On Wednesday night (5/9), they played their first NYC show since selling out Madison Square Garden in 2014. Given that Wednesday night's show happened at the much more intimate, 1,800-capacity Brooklyn Steel, it should be no surprise that the show sold out in under a second. Everyone who did manage to get in was clearly a huge fan, ready to bounce around and sing every word, and Arctic Monkeys delivered.

They opened with an onslaught of classics -- what better way to simultaneously ease everyone in to the set and also scream "we're back!" than with the groove of "Do I Wanna Know"? From there, they got progressively more upbeat with "Crying Lightning," before going into full attack mode with "Brianstorm." Then they hit us with the ten-ton doom of "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" before offering up the second AM favorite of the night, "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?," and then it was time to introduce New York City to Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino. A little birdie tells us that the new album may have sprung a leak earlier this week, but presumably the intention was for a few thousand lucky fans to first hear the new songs live at these pre-release shows, and Arctic Monkeys did an excellent job easing the crowd in to their new sound.

Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino is a drastic change for Arctic Monkeys; it's the most drastic change they've made since the shift from Favourite Worst Nightmare to Humbug. It's the band's quietest sounding record, one you might not even call a "rock" record, but it also shares more DNA with its predecessors than it may seem like it does on first listen, and the setlist at Brooklyn Steel felt catered towards longtime fans who might not want to be thrown into the deep end of Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino. The song on the new album that sounds most like AM is "Four Out of Five," which sorta sounds like a quieter relative of "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?," and that was the first new song of the night, played right after "Why'd You Only Call Me." Alex Turner's weapon of choice on Tranquility is piano, and he was at the piano for that song, and he stayed there afterwards to reach back to Favourite Worst Nightmare for the haunting, atmospheric "505." It was the perfect song to play after "Four Out of Five," and it was a reminder that, though Tranquility is indeed new ground for Arctic Monkeys, they've hinted at these sounds throughout their entire career.

Arctic Monkeys

Another brilliant back-to-back of an old song and a new song was when they took the Humbug ballad "Cornerstone" into Tranquility's "One Point Perspective." As it does on record, that song segued seamlessly into "American Sports," and all three of those songs were well-matched and sounded beautiful together. Another great taste of Tranquility came at the start of their encore, when Arctic Monkeys delivered the new album's most out-there song -- and the one where Matt Helders really gets to go wild behind the kit -- "She Looks Like Fun." They then wrapped up the show with two of AM's hardest rockers, "Arabella" and "R U Mine?", and it was a hell of a way to say goodnight.

The only time that Arctic Monkeys reached back to their iconic debut was for breakthrough single "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," which -- though it was tons of fun as always -- felt almost like an obligation. Arctic Monkeys have evolved so much over the years, and especially with this new album under their belts, they just aren't that charmingly sloppy, shaggy-haired band anymore. I don't know if it'd bum out too many fans, but I think they could retire that song and their sets would be better off. "The View From The Afternoon" (which they did play at every other date of this tour so far) or "Still Take You Home" or "When the Sun Goes Down" would fit better in their current set anyway.

Arctic Monkeys' new album officially drops this Friday (5/11) via Domino, and they've got pop-up shops in Sheffield, NYC, Sydney, Paris, Berlin, and Tokyo this weekend. Their tour brings them back to NYC for a bigger and also sold out show on July 24 at Forest Hills Stadium. They've also got a not sold out Upstate NY show the next night, plus shows at Boston's TD Garden, LA's Hollywood Bowl, and much more.

Check out pictures from Wednesday night's show in the gallery above - including shots of Tame Impala's Cameron Avery, who opened the show and who plays on the new Arctic Monkeys album and also joined them on stage for the new songs.

Arctic Monkeys at Brooklyn Steel - 5/9/18 Setlist
Do I Wanna Know?
Crying Lightning
Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?
Four Out of Five
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
One Point Perspective
American Sports
Snap Out of It
You're So Dark
Pretty Visitors
Knee Socks
One for the Road

She Looks Like Fun
R U Mine?


photos by PSquared

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