Wednesday, 7 April 2010
The Best I've Ever Had - Arctic Monkeys @ The Royal Albert Hall 27.03.2010
Anybody who reads this blog, or even knows me at all, would know I LOVE Arctic Monkeys. Just a tad. OK, an unhealthy amount. The second I knew tickets for the Royal Albert Hall were on sale, I jumped at the opportunity to see them again, especially in such a prestigious venue, and for such a great cause, the Teenage Cancer Trust. Disappointingly, getting hold of these tickets proved difficult, something happened, and we ending up not getting any, which to be fair, left me in a pit of despair. We tried again. Sold out. It seemed destined that myself, and Charlie, fellow Arctic Junkie, were not going to realise our dream.But as the saying goes, everything happens for a reason.By some sheer fluke, and a web link from the Courteeners mailing list, I manged to secure two circle tickets, pretty much dead centre.THE LAST TWO AVAILABLE.From that moment forth, I knew this was going to be one of the biggest and most eventful days of my life, and it didn't disappoint.
So, we'll start at the beginning.Despite my nerves at how closely to the tracks Charlie kept insisting on standing ("BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE PLEASE") we got on the train without incident, travelled to Kings Cross and after some heavy queuing due to maintenance (as usual), we were on the tube, heading towards South Kensington.This is when the cruel fist of fate smashed down upon us.Turning towards me with a look I can only describe as sheepish horror, Charlie admitted that he'd just realised he'd left the tickets at home.As you can imagine, I was NOT IMPRESSED, to say the least.
A metaphorical whack round the head later, we decided that as we were now in Kensington, we might as well head to the science museum anyway.So we proceeded, knowing we had plenty of time to get back to Stevenage and retrieve said tickets.The science museum had changed a fair bit since my last visit, but still had that heartwarming museum smell ("Don't you just love the smell of museums Jen!?"). After a whipround of the F1 exhibition, which was nowhere near as extensive as advertised, we marvelled at the aviation section like the true geeks we are, and took pictures of a rather snazzy ipod stand.Moving on, we hit the launchpad, the interactive section, in which many small child were zooming about, embracing the wonders of science.Almost brought a tear to my eye.Naturally, we got down with the kids and had a go, soon realising that A level Chemistry and Biology has taken most of the mystery out of the place.Ah well. Charlie decided it was time to grovel to his mother on the phone about forgetting the tickets, after after much negotiation , involving a tenner and a case of coke, it was decided Jack, Charlie's brother, would meet us at Stevenage station and hand over the tickets. What a legend.So off we went back to the station, repeating the entire journey we'd made a mere hour or so before.Some random chat and a few rounds of Doodle Jump later, we were back in Stevenage, got the tickets, and headed back to Kensington.
Time was getting on, so we decided to eat.Having launched a tireless campaign to eat in one, we launched a voyage in search of the nearest Wagamamas.Voyage turned out to be the operative word, as due to a sudden downpour, we were wading through seas trying to get anywhere.Wagamamas wasn't getting any closer, so we decided to keep it real and hit McDonald's.The Knightsbridge branch, I hasten to add - we do have some class. Various other destined for the Arctic Monkeys gig were eating in there too, helping to raise the excitement as it finally kicked in for us that we were going to see one of our favourite bands in mere hours.
With a bit of time left, we felt it was imperative to hit Harrods, seen as we were in the area.Ignoring the fact that we were absolutely soaked thanks to the rain, we headed on in, and proceeded to make lists of all the things we'd buy if we were rich and famous, and to mock a stupidly huge chandelier with an equally huge price tag. After our attempts to charge iPhone's ended in vain,and after weighing up the pros and cons or buying square shaped headphones, it was time to be making tracks. DESTINATION - THE ALBERT HALL!
After a short, uneventful walk (besides catching a glimpse of Nick Hoult standing outside a pub) we arived at the palace of dreams.Smaller than I initially expected, excitement hit fever pitch as everyone outside was discussing what song they'd open with. odds were on for either My Propeller or Brianstorm.We were let in promptly, a first for any gig I've been to, and found our seats.Wow. nobody told me they were that good.A short interlude followed, and then we were greeted by our first support act, Anna Calvi.GOOD LORD. Did somebody give her a guitar fom the first time about 30 seconds before she came on stage? Bloody awful racket, so bad that Charlie made his excuses and left, returning a good 15 minutes later with stories of drunk Irishmen. Gladly Mystery Jets were up next, a personal favourite of mine, and completed a very proficient half hour set.Admittedly, it lacked certain key songs, but hey, some of their new stuff is certain to be big this summer.
The venue was filling up now, and the anticipation was palpable.There was a brief gap where two teenage cancer patients came on stage to talk about their experiences and the charity, which was heartwarming to say the least, and really brought home why we were all there.I personally could not think of a better reason, and made a mental note to deposit all my change in one of the collection buckets later.
So it was time.the lights dimmed.screams flew up.And onto the stage strolled God. Alexander David Turner suantered onstage, picked up his guitar, and we held our collective breaths.What song would it be? He struck a chord, and my spirits rose.DANCE LITTLE LIAR. Good shout Alex. My faviourite off the new album, and a song I've never heard them play live before.I was glad to see Charlie converted, as I knew he thought little of humbug and its songs prior to this gig.The song ran along nicely, a slick middle 8, and drew to a close.Helders drumssticks came down. and again. and again.thump.
and merged.... into Brianstrom.Pure, pure genius. Like I've never seen them play before.
I cant honestly describe how i felt, but i can tell you, it blew their reading set out of the water.My personal highlights were The View from the Afternoon, and a phenomenal When the Sun Goes Down, made even more impressive by the two minute gap after its intro caused by the incessant screams of the crowd.Turner looked on fine form, and happier than I've seen him live in quite some time.He looked...competent, like he knew what he was doing, and was glad to be doing it.Song after song followed, as charlie and i exchanged frequent grins of triumphance as he played several of our favourites.but all too soon, it had to end, as with a chilling 505, the band left the stage.we were awestruck.filling out of the venue, i genuinely felt like id experienced something like never before.exhausted but exuberant, we headed back to the tube station, and began the long journey home.A few naps, spontaneous singalongs and sex tips later, we were back in stevenage. Mental.
to conclude, Arctic Monkeys were more than worth waiting for.it took a long journey to get there, emotionally and physically, thing went wrong along the way, one of the support acts was clearly tone deaf, but it was a fantastic gig and i can think of nobody else who I'd have rather shared it with,someone who appreciates this incredible band just as much as me.We've both had pretty lame times of it recently, and it was lovely to just get away and think of the good things in life for once. So, all in all, job well done,but we won't forget the tickets next time...
Arctic Monkeys played:
'Dance Little Liar'
'This House Is A Circus'
'Still Take You Home'
'Red Right Hand'
'The View From The Afternoon'
'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'
'If You Were There, Beware'
'Do Me A Favour'
'When The Sun Goes Down'