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Arctic Monkeys live at Glastonbury: a career-spanning triumph from true greats

Alex Turner's acute laryngitis is given a firm two fingers as the Monkeys headline Worthy Farm for the third time.

4.0 rating

By Jake Hawkes

(Picture: Aaron Parsons/Rolling Stone UK)

After three rip-roaring London headline shows, the stage was prepared for an Arctic Monkeys Glastonbury set to remember. The band have headlined before, in 2007 and 2013, but this time they arrive seven albums in and hot off the back of a globetrotting stadium tour. It was time for the hat-trick and nothing could go wrong – right?

A message from the band cancelling their Dublin show on Monday threw a spanner in the works, with Alex Turner suffering from ‘acute laryngitis’ and ordered to rest his voice. Luckily the days off seem to have done the trick, and by the time the band step out onto the Pyramid Stage they’re more than ready to blow the farm gates off of Worthy Farm.

Old school fans may have been worried that Alex might spend two hours crooning with a piano, especially as the opening notes of the slow, slinky ‘Sculptures of Anything Goes’ announce the band’s arrival on stage. These fears are quickly put at ease as second track ‘Brianstorm’ kicks in, delivered at a pace which barely leaves room to breathe. The band are typically light on small talk, but with songs like these, who needs a funny anecdote or an exhortation to clap along?

(Picture: Aaron Parsons/Rolling Stone UK)

The pace continues from this starting pistol, with the band masterfully dipping in and out of each album for a set which, for our money, could barely be improved. Tracks from new album ‘The Car’ are paired with singalong smashes in a knowing nod to the recent material maybe being more suited to a Las Vegas lounge bar than a field packed with hammered festival-goers.

These pairings do more than just make sure people don’t drift off to the bar though, with lyrics on new songs tying so perfectly into older cuts that it feels almost as if the band had a masterplan from the moment they released their first single. Pining for a lost love or a subpar romance isn’t exactly original, but ‘Cornerstone’ into ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ is enough to make anyone feel like a besotted teenager again.

(Picture: Aaron Parsons/ Rolling Stone UK)

The stage show also sees the Monkeys stepping easily into their status as a stadium band. A huge Mirrorball duly appears after ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’ and a circular screen is centre stage throughout, amplifying and multiplying the band. It’s not Beyonce at Coachella, but it’s still a hell of a show.

It’s hard to argue that Arctic Monkeys had anything to prove with a Glasto headline slot. Most of the crowd would have gone away happy if they’d turned up, played the hits, and walked off stage again. Admittedly the night was light on special guests or unique Glastonbury flourishes, but the band manage to curate a set which perfectly melds together songs from over 15 years of being at the top of their game, and by the look of the Cheshire-cat grins on their faces for the entire set, have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Here’s to another few decades of being one of the best bands on the planet.