Arctic Monkeys played Forest Hills, covered Strokes (video, pics, review, setlist)
Arctic Monkeys began the current leg of their tour at Queens' Forest Hills Stadium on Tuesday night (7/24). It was their first time in NYC since their small (for their standards) show at Brooklyn Steel in May, which was two days before their great, loungey new album Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino came out, and it was great to have them back now that the new songs have settled in. At the Brooklyn Steel show, they eased us into the new material, opening with five of their greatest hits before playing anything off the new album, but at Forest Hills Stadium, they kicked right off with Tranquility highlight "Four Out of Five," and they had the crowd in the palms of their hands from the minute they struck their first chord.
It was clear immediately that Forest Hills Stadium was the perfect environment to be seeing Arctic Monkeys in at this point in their career. When they toured behind 2013's AM, which is one of the best modern-day arena rock albums around, they finally made the jump to an actual arena (in NYC) and headlined Madison Square Garden, where their huge sound felt right at home. The new album is much more intimate-sounding, but Arctic Monkeys are still a very popular band, and Forest Hills Stadium is the perfect middle ground. It's a big place, but it somehow feels intimate, just like Arctic Monkeys' new album. That all said, they actually didn't play too much from the new album. It was mostly a career spanning set, with just about as many songs played from Tranquility as from Favourite Worst Nightmare, AM, and Humbug (the only Suck It and See song was "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" and the only song from their classic debut was "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," which was a major crowdpleaser in Forest Hills and sounded much more natural in their setlist than it did at the recent Brooklyn Steel show). That's a little bit of a bummer, as they've been playing the older songs for years and the new album is really great, but it didn't really matter how familiar their setlist was, because Arctic Monkeys played like the rock stars that they are and put on a show for the ages.
With this career-spanning set, one of the things that really stood out to me was how often they would play songs from different albums back to back, and how well they would flow into each other. Every Arctic Monkeys album is distinctly different, and some (like the new one) are drastically different, so it's kind of amazing to realize "Four Out of Five" flows perfectly into "Brianstorm," which flows perfectly into "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair," which flows perfectly into "Crying Lightning." Or how the hugely crowdpleasing "Do I Wanna Know" turned into a hugely crowdpleasing double header with "Dancefloor" right after it. It was also thrilling to see Arctic Monkeys rework some older material to fit in with the Tranquility stuff, like the loungey version of "Do Me A Favour" that they played, or how they reminded you the new stuff isn't totally out of left field, by delivering a stadium-rock-ready rendition of Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino's title track. Everything blended together seamlessly, and, especially with this riskier new album under their belts, it feels more than ever like Arctic Monkeys are a career band. They're far from relying on the hype of their early fan faves -- their Forest Hills Stadium show was excellent even with just one song from their debut played -- and they've turned into such a strongly unique band, that whatever unexpected twists and turns their career takes, they'll always feel like the Arctic Monkeys you know and love.
They started their encore off with Tranquility's stream-of-consciousness opener "Star Treatment," which begins with the line "I just wanted to be one of the Strokes, now look at the mess you made me make," and then the very next song in their set was a cover of none other than NYC heroes The Strokes. "We couldn't think of a tennis song, so we're gonna try this," Alex Turner said. (Forest Hills Stadium is a tennis stadium.) Arctic Monkeys have covered The Strokes before (and that "Star Treatment" lyric isn't the first time Alex acknowledged the profound influence they had on his band early on), but according to Setlist.fm, this was their first time covering "Is This It." They did a pretty straightforward rendition of the song, but it sounded awesome and it seemed like the whole crowd agreed.
Watch video of the Strokes cover and see Arctic Monkeys' setlist below, and check out pictures from their set in the gallery above. Arctic Monkeys' tour with openers Mini Mansions (members of QOTSA and Last Shadow Puppets) continues at Upstate NY's CMAC on Wednesday (7/25).
Arctic Monkeys at Forest Hills Stadium -- 7/24/18 Setlist
Four Out of Five
Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
One Point Perspective
Do Me a Favour
Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?
Do I Wanna Know?
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Is This It (The Strokes cover)
R U Mine?
photos by Dana Distortion