• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Arctic Monkeys at Bellahouston Park 25/06/23

ByCameron Donnelly

Jul 21, 2023
Alex Turner front stage with guitar at Bellahouston Park.

Glasgow was gloomy, to begin with. Heavy, grey clouds weighed upon the city; it was fixing to be a real wet one. A mass exodus to Bellahouston Park was bolstered by buses at their maximum capacity, no taqueria on the roof unfortunately. By the time we reached the front pen, the word ‘poncho’ had lost all its meaning as peddlers took advantage of the poor weather. The only challenge now was to entertain ourselves for the next 3 hours. Little to no phone signal meant we were going analogue and having to converse with each other. Oh, the horror. 

The Mysterines took the stage, and our boredom was temporarily pacified. If you’re into Wolf Alice’s more rock-oriented cuts, then you might want to check them out. A tight set from the Liverpool band and they were away as quick as they arrived. A brief break and giant white letters were wheeled onstage, spelling out ‘HIVES’. The band, now 26 years from their first album, Barely Legal, were extremely animated when performing. Their lead singer, Pelle Almqvist, desperately wanted to remind the crowd they were in-attendance of a ‘rock’ concert.  

Finally, the storm subsided, and Arctic Monkeys brought their own. ‘Brianstorm’ blared from the band. A strong start, however much of the frantic, youthful energy that drove the song had been sacrificed to maturity (maybe Turner weakens with every new haircut?). The audience were relatively still, given how upbeat song is. The band continued on with little intermission bar Alex Turner noticing a large flock of birds swarm the sky above to which he commanded, “bring out the birds”, repeatedly.  

‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair’ was the only song from their 2011 album Suck It and See, but it most certainly left an impact. The drop-D riff was felt all around the park. As the song marched on there was still little movement from onlookers bar the occasional raising of an iPhone to capture the moment. 

‘Four out of Five’ had noticeable changes to the arrangement bringing out a groovier side to the tune. The slowed outro brought to a close by Turner’s waving hands was a testament to the fullness of their live sound, which is unsurprising given they have had plenty of time to hone their trade. Approaching 20 years since the release of their debut, Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not, their rendition of ‘Mardy Bum’, a fan favourite from that album, was a saccharine moment for all. ‘From the Ritz to the Rubble’ also cast back to the early noughties but suffered a similar fate to ‘Brianstorm’. 

‘Pretty Visitors’ was exactly the torrent of drums expected, with audience members mimicking the “shadows of a snake pit” described in the song’s chorus. A shining moment for “Mr Matthew J Helders” who was thanked by the frontman. The band successfully managed to tap into the weight of this song given that it has been some time since it was conceived. 

In spite of the band touring without an orchestra, utilised heavily on their latest effort, the lead single, ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball’ felt just as full as ever. Emotional peaks in Turner’s falsetto soared across the stage. Another cut from The Car, ‘Body Paint’ was an absolute highlight. The multi-stage song accelerated to epic proportions as the extended outro and solo exploded across the atmosphere and superseded the studio version. By this point the Monkeys had proven they‘ve still got ‘it’. 

Throughout the performance time had stood still, although the curtain fell on this illusion when the band left the stage. Until… a Moog synthesiser with a tone as thick as the Earth’s core filled the air; every chest cavity reverberating at the same frequency. ‘Sculptures of Anything Goes’ began. Every mark was hit, every ‘gasp’, every pause, every triumph of the song was fulfilled. It was perfect. To close the set, distorted guitars squealed the beginning of ‘R U Mine’ and by some miracle the audience finally livened up. A fitting send-off given the electricity and popularity of the tune. They said their thanks and left the crowd in the dark to make their way home. With night bus queues trailing out of the station, it was despair in the departure lounge. 

Image courtesy of Cameron Donnelly