Album Review: Arctic Monkeys – ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’

Anchored by Turner’s potent songwriting, the boisterous riffs of the AM era and cuts from loungey debutant, Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino, are revitalised for a performance at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. Now transformed into a charity live-album, Roisin Hickey reflects on Arctic Monkeys’ two-decade career and one of the most compelling touring acts of all time.

The recently released album of Arctic Monkeys at the Royal Albert Hall was recorded pre-COVID when Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino was released in 2018. The recording for the album comes from their charity gig at the Royal Albert Hall on behalf of the charity War Child which helps children in war-torn countries. All the money made from the live recording album will be donated to the charity to help children effected in war-torn countries.

Even though the gig was around the time Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino was released, the ninety-minute set included nostalgic Arctic Monkeys tracks that many of us grew up listening to. It seemed that the setlist was a compilation of fans most-loved songs and the refreshing inclusion of songs from Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino. One thing that has not changed is Alex Turner’s ability to engage a crowd as you can hear the voices of a full Albert Hall singing alongside him and the approving roars when a song ends, and another begins.

‘Turner singing these songs seemed entirely effortless, attacking the vocals with a more mature disposition.’

Turner begins with Four Out Of Five, and the emphatic release of Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino was recent enough for this to go down well with the audience. This was followed by fan favourites Brainstorm, Do I Wanna Know and 505. Turner singing these songs seemed entirely effortless, attacking the vocals with a more mature disposition. There is something ever so mysterious about how he sings that brings the listener into the album. This is, however, swiftly interrupted as 2018’s woozy One Point Perspective starts playing.

The songs on Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino have a different sound compared to the earlier material that the four-piece have released. The new album cuts through the older songs in an energetic way. Turner then reverts to older works quickly, possibly to keep the crowd stimulated as the material was still pretty fresh out of the studio. Cornerstone follows as Turner proves that his lyrical genius has always been a gift from the band's earliest days. It must also be said that the synth and electric guitar in the performance completes Turner’s vocals especially in songs such as Knee Socks and Arabella where the backing vocals, as well as the guitar riffs, play on the essence of the band.

Adding to this, From The Ritz To The Rubble, Don't Sit Down' Cause I've Moved Your Chair and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor provided the audience with rock-infused side to the band which was characteristic of their earlier albums. I think the inclusion of these songs in the set created a very present feeling of nostalgia for the audience at the gig and those who listen to the live album. The end of the album comprises Star Treatment, The View From the Afternoon, and R U Mine?

The choice of songs is quite interesting here, taking one from each key era of the bands near two-decade career. R U Mine? includes Turner teasing the crowd by singing acapella and then the impressive arrival of bass, synth and electric guitars . On the whole, the album is very successful at showing us who the Arctic Monkeys are. The live performance gives another level of depth to the songs that you would not typically hear from listening to their studio recorded album.

Written by: Roisin Hickey

Edited by: Alex Duke

Article image courtesy of Norman Records via Facebook.