Looking Good On The Dancefloor
“This town’s a different town today
This town’s a different town to what it was last night”
The long cold queue of the night before seems a long time ago in the warm crush this evening of the Parr Hall bar. With showers, food and a few hours sleep under our belts we are champing at the bit in anticipation of the climax of this escapade, one that started the previous day at noon when this secret gig was officially announced. The rumours that the Arctic Monkeys were coming to Warrington had been bouncing about for about a week, so the reality of actually being at the gig has ensured a sort of giddy euphoria amongst the crowd.
First up are the hotly-tipped Liverpool band The Little Flames. Firmly standing in the 80’s post-punk camp, they work at a high velocity, with evocative female vocals over stabbing guitar riffs and galloping drums. This appearance should win them over some new fans in good time for the release of their new single ‘Isobella’ and their debut album.
The crowd buzzes with excitement during the interval between bands, with people jostling for position and chanting. There’s a huge surge forwards as the Arctic Monkeys finally stride onto the small stage, and without ceremony they introduce us to a handful of numbers from the new album ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’. These are received enthusiastically and are not a million miles away from the existing back catalogue, much to the relief of anyone who suspected a major change of musical direction. There is much joyful dancing and bouncing around at the front, but the place truly erupts with the choppy opening bars of ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’. It’s like the reunion of long-lost friends. Feet literally don’t touch the ground.
Alex Turner and the band don’t say much, other to greet us briefly and to introduce numbers, but they seem to be enjoying themselves as much as us. Every note, every riff is spot on. The Monkeys have given themselves a hard act to follow with their first album still receiving kudos. But it seems from the evidence here tonight they will deliver the follow-up everyone expects, seemingly effortlessly. The clever wordmanship and the artful, danceable licks are very much evident.
Any air of aggression, so often apparent in such a vigorous crowd is thankfully absent, perhaps due to the sense that we are all on a great big adventure together. The band play a mixure of classics and newer material: ‘Still Take You Home’, ‘When The Sun Goes Down, and ‘Leave Before The Lights Come On’ alongside new single ‘Brianstorm’, and it all triggers a jubilant audience reaction. Crowdsurfers roll regularly over our heads; in fact members of the local rugby league team are seen launching potential surfers skywards.
“I’ve had a nice time. A very nice time indeed” Turner confesses before introducing the final number ‘A Certain Romance’. And as the lights do indeed come on, we look at each other, and everyone is hot, sticky and sweaty, yet grinning, incredulous that it all actually happened. Yes, Alex, we had a very nice time too.