September has continuously been busy for England rockers Arctic Monkeys. Last year, they headlined Los Angeles’ first Primavera Sound, performing with a new look and semi-changed sound, which would come to be featured on their latest record, The Car. This year, the Sheffield outfit returned to California for a sold-out, three-night stint at the Kia Forum in Inglewood. To make matters more interesting, the band’s most popular album — one that catapulted them to mainstream stardom and plagued both Tumblr and radiowaves for months — AM, was celebrating 10 years this September. With these perspectives in place, Arctic Monkeys played with little to no reliance on any of them; the showmanship, swagger, and delivery were all they needed.
Fans lined up around the arena, taking photos with decals of lyrics from various Monkeys’ tracks that were scattered along the venue walls. Large projections of the band’s logo and banners displaying the sold-out nature of all three events also sat among the Kia Forum, comfortably hyping up guests. Irish post-punk darlings Fontaines D.C. opened the night with a 40-minute performance, illuminated by a fiery red curtain that bared the band’s logo in bright yellow lettering. As if that wasn’t punctual enough, singer Grian Chatten commanded the stage, slamming his mic stand into the stage like a captain getting his army ready for battle. Tracks performed included “Televised Mind,” off critically acclaimed A Hero’s Death, and a majority of the set consisted of songs from the band’s newest LP, Skinty Fia.
Arctic Monkeys took the stage in complete darkness, signaling to the audience that showtime was upon them. Everyone took their respective places, with singer Alex Turner illuminated by a single spotlight, kicking off the set with “Sculptures of Anything Goes,” a brooding, ominous track off The Car that ushered in the band one by one. This was juxtaposed by the following song, Favourite Worst Nightmare’s “Brianstorm,” which sent fans into a frenzy.
Turner, dressed in a suit and sporting aviator shades similar to the pair Robert De Niro wears in Casino, strutted the stage with his signature chic and glamor. The stage itself resembled that of a ’70s talk show, with multiple yellow lights providing the audience with glimpses of the band. Two large screens, along with a spherical one smack in the middle, displayed close-ups of the band while performing, reminiscent of an episode of Granada TV. This vintage, pulpy look goes hand in hand with the Monkeys’ latest release, a loungey-tactical, ballad-hitting album that seems to take more from 2018’s polarizing Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, as opposed to their upbeat and arena-charting LPs.
The fans welcomed every track, new and old, with the arena lighting up via iPhone flashes for “Perfect Sense” and people clapping in unison to the drums of Matt Helders introducing “Knee Socks.” Earlier albums were revisited, such as Humbug and Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, but most of the set consisted of AM cuts. The album that transitioned the England outfit to arena-selling icons made up the majority of the show, blended with The Car, which was a nice switch from ballad to rock hit. If the set didn’t dazzle enough, by the 14th song, Arctic Monkeys played fan favorite after fan favorite: “Fluorescent Adolescent,” “505,” and “Do I Wanna Know?”
In between, the band’s first single off the newest record, “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” had Turner playing the piano before strapping on an acoustic guitar (although the disco ball featuring the band’s logo did not descend from its stoic position during this time). Turner and co. concluded their 18-song set with “Body Paint,” an alternative ballad if there ever was one, that had Turner in his emotions, dropping to his knees while belting the lyrics. This song featured an extended outro that let the band jam, allowing echoes to bounce off the walls parallel to the stage. Finally, they exited, with Turner blowing kisses to both sides of the stage.
The Kia Forum remained dark for a good four or five minutes, as the fans chanted for an encore. The wait was genuine and didn’t come off as a tacky ruse. Arctic Monkeys needed fans to demand more music; not a want but a need. The band obliged and returned to the stage, with Turner thanking Los Angeles before going into “Hello You,” where the mighty mirrorball lowered halfway and spun. The crowd got reenergized during “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” jumping and singing along to every word.
The finale concluded with “R U Mine?,” where the band delivered another devastatingly perfect performance of the chart-topping hit. Turner paused after concluding, looking into the crowd, with the monitor displaying his bewilderment for the entire arena. Fans applauded continuously as he watched. He then returned to the mic and continued the song like a revisited track on an album. Though the band have transitioned to various sounds and looks over their 21 years together, the love from the dedicated fans paired with the group’s eclectic magnetism allows for new ideas to become beloved. The endurance is uncanny and always on full display.
Arctic Monkeys’ September 29, 2023 setlist
- “Sculptures of Anything Goes”
- “Snap Out of It”
- “Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”
- “Teddy Picker”
- “Crying Lightning”
- “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino”
- “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”
- “Perfect Sense”
- “The View From the Afternoon”
- “Knee Socks”
- “Pretty Visitors”
- “Fluorescent Adolescent”
- “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball”
- “Do I Wanna Know?”
- “Body Paint”
- “Hello You”
- “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
- “R U Mine?”