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A Magazine for Sheffield

"These gigs will gain legendary status": Arctic Monkeys at Hillsborough Park

Over two nights, the Sheffield sons take us from the city's streets to outer space and back again. They are here to prove a point.

Arctic monkeys at hillsborough 4
Lilian Corrigan

In heat like this fires start with the tiniest spark. The spark tonight is the first four furious seconds of 'Brianstorm'. Arctic Monkeys never open with this. It’s normally played three songs in, once they've warmed up. But tonight, the Monkeys mean business. Energy is at ten from the start.

The crowd gasp, cheer and start bouncing. Two flares appear from nowhere, scarlet smoke cast onto the evening sky while in unison 35,000 people shout, “Brian, top marks for not trying." Someone next to me gets knocked on the nose. It starts bleeding. A few songs later, bloody tissue up the nostril, he’s shouting, “Alex Turner is the voice of Sheffield.”

For the first six songs Arctic Monkeys keep the energy at ten, roaring their way through 'Snap Out Of It', 'Don’t Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair', 'Crying Lightning', 'Teddy Picker' and 'Ritz to Rubble'. They are here to prove a point.

And for the next hour and a half the band show us why they are so special and how they are still at the top of their game. Mapping a course with highlights from a huge songbook, they take us from the streets of Sheffield to outer space and back again.

Arctic monkeys at hillsborough 1
Lilian Corrigan

During '505' I climb onto my mate's shoulders, escaping the mayhem of bouncing topless lads creating circle pits from nowhere. I look out on a crowd completely enthralled, singing back every word as loudly as possible. Many voices will have been lost somewhere in Hillsborough Park, my own included.

The band just seem to be lapping it up. The intensity of the set only breaks when Turner decides to play piano and sing the lines, “I’m sitting down for Sheffield,” for two minutes. But the smiles, the energy, the cuddles, the jokes – The Arctic Monkeys loved being back in Sheffield.

These two Hillsborough Park gigs will gain legendary status. They were that special. In pubs across Sheffield, strangers will debate whether Friday’s gig or Saturday’s gig was better. Friday night had 'A Certain Romance', but Saturday was supposedly wilder.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. This gig reminded me of why I feel in love with Arctic Monkeys in the first place. Why their music matters. Writing this review the Sunday morning after I can’t help but think: This town is a different town today...

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