Arctic Monkeys are one of the country’s most beloved bands thanks to their high-octane live performances and consistently brilliant album releases. With two Glastonbury headline slots to their name already and having managed to become household names all over the globe; how would we organise their setlist? Well this is the beginning of our new Ultimate setlist series where we pick which tunes would be best suited to a 10/10 show.
1. Star Treatment
It’s been out a matter of months and already sounds like a quintessential opener not only to the album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino but also an Arctic Monkeys live show. Starting the show with those gorgeous piano keys and Alex’s high-pitched vocal harmonies would be a heavenly way to build fans up and allow them to witness the latest era of the band come to life.
2. Do I Wanna Know?
Without hesitation, slam those drum beats in from Matt Helders, much like they did in the 2013/14 shows, and watch the crowd go wild. Arms aloft chanting along to that infectious guitar riff while screaming the words to the chorus and jumping around. It seems like a ideal follow-up to the opener and would give a natural progression of moving through their stacked discography.
3. Do Me A Favour
Once again with those drums, this would be a real fan favourite when played live and it is a personal favourite of mine from Favourite Worst Nightmare. What would make this song such a biblical live experience is how seemingly steady but catchy it is throughout until the bridge when we get a huge explosion of instrumentals, the drums get louder and the guitars thrash while Alex screams “perhaps fuck off might be too kind”. Mega.
4. Crying Lightning
Four songs from four different albums to kick off the set, this time looking at the biggest single from third studio album Humbug. This one is a big hit every time they play it live and has a cool blend of old-school Arctics to the more modern, slick vibe they approach today. It is certainly one to jump around, singing the words and bringing an air of nostalgia to one of Britain’s best loved bands.
5. Four Out Of Five
The biggest song to come from the band’s latest album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino would be a sure fire hit for fans who hear it live thanks to the groovy rock riff provided by the guitars and the easily-singable chorus which would give huge crowd reaction I am sure. This could easily become not only a big part of the group’s upcoming shows in congruence with their new album but also a staple of future tours and shows thanks to it’s largely positive reception.
Songs like this helped Alex Turner and co. become a massive success in AMerica (see what I did there?) and it isn’t difficult to see why. That guitar riff is monstrous alongside the crashing cymbals and Alex’s cool as it gets on-mic persona. You’d expect the lights to go wild and the crowd to follow suit with this one as they begin their run into the middle of the set.
If for whatever reason the crowd weren’t as rowdy as anticipated then fear not, this is the song to change that entirely. Brianstorm is an absolute Arctic Monkeys classic and never fails to bring the energy to a live performance, just watch some of the videos of them playing it live to see what I mean but if you’ve heard the song, as I am sure you have, you will have a pretty good idea already.
8. Pretty Visitors
One of the band’s more underrated songs up next in Pretty Visitors from their third album Humbug. As soon as I saw them do this at Glastonbury 2013 (not live, I wish), I knew that it was a must on any Arctic Monkeys setlist from now on. The chorus gets the crowd waving their arms, as the lyrics would suggest, and the verses are lively and boisterous; the perfect recipe for a rock band’s live shows.
9. When The Sun Goes Down
When talking about Arctic Monkeys’ songs, they don’t come much bigger than When The Sun Goes Down. The first verse will be screamed from the rafters so much that you could barely hear Alex Turner himself, but once it kicks in there’s no way the crowd are drowning out those instrumentals. It may seem quite strange to see this song slap bang in the middle of the set but the group are hardly spoiled for choice when it comes to set closers, plus I’m sure just hearing this song in some capacity will be enough for 99% of fans.
10. Old Yellow Bricks
an undeniable favourite of the group’s large big hit discography, Old Yellow Bricks is a nostalgia trip that dreams are made of for any avid fan of Arctic Monkeys. It brings energy and a care-free attitude to the set and could be a magnificent way to carry on this roll they would go on from the songs that come before it. The riff gets people moving and Alex’s lyrics are tailor made for a dominant live show.
11. R U Mine?
Another of those fan favourites coming from AM, this would explode into life with a colossal light show and the speakers turned up to eleven (shout out to Spinal Tap) for those thrashing guitar chords. This is one of the group’s most recognisable worldwide hits so crowds in America and Asia would enjoy it just as much as those back home in the UK. This could also be the one that makes Alex Turner take the flares off and resort to skinny jeans and a leather jacket once more.
12. Black Treacle
The first of two songs from 2011 album Suck It And See on this setlist and you just know this one would be a highlight of the whole show. The isolated vocals and the stagnated guitar riff in the verses is excellent but this song would really be enjoyed most in the chorus thanks to those quirky and obscure lyrics and the rock and roll chords that belt out.
13. American Sports
Another from Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino here, it is hard to deny the brilliance of American Sports despite it’s very different sound in comparison to a typical Arctic Monkeys song. Try telling me that this chorus isn’t infectious alongside those beautiful piano keys; plus who doesn’t want to hear Alex Turner complain about his virtual reality mask being “stuck on parliament brawl”? Exactly.
It’d be rude not to wouldn’t it? I feel like placing Cornerstone at this point in the setlist would be ideal given that it follows quite a nice, melancholy song; it is a better time than ever for them to play their softest ballad of them all. It is a perfect sing-along moment for the crowd and could even see a few tears shed given the huge nostalgia trip it will send the biggest fans on.
15. Fluorescent Adolescent
If you thought I would leave this one out then you’re a fool, quite frankly. Perhaps the easiest song of theirs to sing along to and any happy-go-lucky millennial will revel in the aurora of hearing Fluorescent Adolescent live, whether they’re witnessing it for the first time or the hundredth. No matter how much the band have changed over the years, even they can accept that leaving a song this huge off their live sets would be a cardinal sin.
16. She’s Thunderstorms
An intriguing pick and probably not one that every Monkeys fan would pick, but the opening track on Suck It And See is a certified banger with melodic vocals and a great instrumental. It is sure to get the diehards jumping and your edgy mate who thinks this is their best album will thank me greatly for this addition to the setlist.
Even without an encore, you have to feel as though fans would go home happy with the knowledge that they’d just seen 505 live in person. The anthemic build up from verse to verse before exploding into life is, to many, the true soundtrack of the Arctic Monkeys’ discography and that closing minute or so would be up there with the best live performance you’re ever likely to see. Hey, why not throw Miles Kane into play the guitar on it too? Just like Glastonbury 2013.
18. My Propeller
Imagine the scene, wandering back onto the stage to huge cheers and chanting before taking their positions and BANG! Matt Helders slams his drums to the tune of the opening tune from Humbug, sending the crowd into a spiral. My Propeller is a personal favourite of mine and I am not alone in that regard, it is an absolute belter and much like many of the songs previously played in this set, it has crowd-lifting features in abundance.
19. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Here it is, it was only a matter of time before the song that made the group famous appeared on this list. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor is essential 21st century rock music in every essence, from the huge guitar riffs, the incredible Matt Helders drum beat or Alex’s enigmatic vocal delivery; it really is a song for the ages. Even if diehard fans of the group pretend not to like it because they think that’ll make them look cool, I guarantee you they’ll be the first ones cutting shapes to this one in the crowd.
20. A Certain Romance
Why not end the show with their best song? The closing track on debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not would be a guaranteed winner and a true blessing for any Arctic Monkeys fan lucky enough to witness it live. The intro gives me goosebumps and it is a real arm-waver as well as a head-banger at the best of times, the ultimate live experience anthem.