Why you need to let go of the old Arctic Monkeys...

16 June 2023, 18:00 | Updated: 16 June 2023, 18:20

Arctic Monkeys in 2006 with press image inset
Arctic Monkeys in 2006 with press image inset. Picture: Shutterstock/Zackery Michael

By Jenny Mensah

As the band prepare to play the first of three nights at London's Emirates Stadium, Radio X remind you why it's OK that the band have changed.

Arctic Monkeys have been delighting fans with live dates across the UK this month.

After epic dates at the likes of Bristol, Coventry, Manchester, Norwich, Middlesborough, Swansea and Southampton, plus two homecoming shows at Hillsborough Park, the Sheffield rockers are headed to London tonight (Friday 16th June) for the first of three consecutive nights at London's Emirates Stadium.

Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Nick O'Malley have been treating fans to bangers from across their career, opening with classic tracks from their early records and playing favourites across their seven albums.

The 2023 edition of Alex Turner performing with Arctic Monkeys in Amsterdam.
The 2023 edition of Alex Turner performing with Arctic Monkeys in Amsterdam. Picture: PAUL BERGEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

However, some fans have noticed Alex Turner sounds slightly different on stage, with the frontman choosing to change up the tempo and cadence of the melodies to some of the band's classic tracks.

While the band are offering plenty of tracks from across their early days, some fans still bemoan having to sit through their latest works from 2022's The Car and 2018's Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

READ MORE: Arctic Monkeys at London's Emirates Stadium: Stage times, support, tickets, travel and more

Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know (Radio X Session)

To those still shocked that Arctic Monkeys have changed their sound or that Alex has changed up his performance style somewhat, then we've got some bad news for you... The Arctic Monkeys of yesteryear are long gone and are never coming back.

They are probably never going to look and sound like like they did when they released their debut again in 2006. In fact, they'll probably never make another album like 2013's AM if they can help it!

Luckily, we have great news. If you're desperately trying to reconcile how the band once were with how they are today, we have the perfect solution: Don't.

Don't bother yearning for the noughties rascals who released Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, because they don't exist any more.

The Chris Moyles show is joined by the Arctic Monkeys cover star

But how do you let go of your feelings of anger, resentment and betrayal when your favourite band changes things up?

First of all, let's use some good old fashion common sense. When Arctic Monkeys first formed in 2002, their quick-witted frontman would have only been around 16 years old.

Now, we're not sure about you, but we were pretty bloody useless at 16 and had little to no life experience at all.

When the band released their debut album in 2006, Alex Turner would have just turned 20.

Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner at Glastonbury Festival 2007
Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner at Glastonbury Festival 2007. Picture: Rosie Greenway/Getty Images

OK, so our early 20s were absolutely class! For most of us this meant less stress, less money worries, more time on our hands and a lot less responsibility, but can you really ever imagine going back? Or can you imagine anyone telling you that you had to stay exactly the same as you were back then?

It's hard for most people to imagine looking the same, acting the same, dressing the same or even talking the same as they did over 15 years ago, so why do we expect it from our bands?

Plus, throw in a few life-changing experiences such as travelling the world, playing its biggest venues, working with some of the biggest musicians on the planet and having kids (all but Alex Turner have become fathers), is it any wonder that they've changed?

The 19-year-old Alex Turner playing in Nottingham in 2005.
The 19-year-old Alex Turner playing in Nottingham in 2005. Picture: Andy Willsher/Redferns/Getty Images

If we assume that no one really expects Arctic Monkeys to be talking about pulling and nights out in Sheffield, then let's tackle the music instead of its lyrical content.

What if you coped with the albums that followed after their debut, but you think it's all gone a little bit too far? Well, to be honest you've got a fair point.

The Car and Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino are a far cry from Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007), Humbug (2009) or even AM (2013). If you've given their new material a good old go you're still not keen, that's fair enough... but have you considered the idea that their best work is yet to come?

Young Monkeys, backstage in Barnsley, 2005.
Young Monkeys, backstage in Barnsley, 2005. Picture: Andy Willsher/Redferns/Getty Images

After all, if Radiohead would have stuck to their 'winning formula' after The Bends in 1995, they probably would have ended up being just another post-Britpop indie band. And even when we thought they'd peaked again with the acclaimed OK Computer in 1997, they completely shocked us with Kid A (2000). And the incredible game-changing In Rainbows (2007) speaks for itself.

Love them or loathe them, their ability to change things up have given them a longevity they may have never experienced if they didn't filp the proverbial script with their loyal fans.

Arctic Monkeys at the time of Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
Arctic Monkeys at the time of Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino. Picture: Zackery Michael/Domino Records

If The Beatles started as they meant to go on, they probably would have just stayed as a regional beat group, playing old-school R&B toe-tappers in and around Europe.

Instead, they diversified, changed up their sound, experimented with new recording techniques and transformed the world when it came to music, fashion and even politics.

Arctic Monkeys' first performance at Reading, August 2005.
Arctic Monkeys' first performance at Reading, August 2005. Picture: Tabatha Fireman/Redferns/Getty

By 1965, Bob Dylan was hailed as the "spokesman of a generation" and deemed one of the leading voices of the American folk revival. But when Robert Zimmerman went electric, there was a mighty uproar from the fans and the critics alike.

Despite the backlash at the time, plugging-in paid off for the Nobel Prize For Literature-winning singer-songwriter, who continues to be a legendary icon.

We think that's what you call having the last laugh...

Arctic Monkeys win the Mercury Prize for their debut album Whatever People Say I Am... September 2006.
Arctic Monkeys win the Mercury Prize for their debut album Whatever People Say I Am... September 2006. Picture: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

If you need any more obvious examples, than look no further than David Bowie, who is famous for changing his sound, image and performance style countless times throughout the years.

If we'd made the late icon stay the same after even his third or fourth album, we would never have had The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars or his Berlin trilogy.

A world without Bowie ch-ch-ch-changing would literally be a world without Changes... or Heroes... or Life On Mars?

And without his lesser-known Lodger album, how could we have ever got to the genius that was his swan song, Blackstar?

When it comes to making the seventh album mark, these guys are also in good company. The Beatles Revolver, Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication and The Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet (in the UK) are just some successful seventh albums to name a few.

Acts who last longer than seven albums are pretty much just getting into their stride, so if you aren't keen on this iteration of the Arctic Monkeys, there's a good chance you will probably like something else they do later down the line...

Arctic Monkeys on the artwork and title of The Car

Sticking to a formula has its merits, but if we want Arctic Monkeys to achieve legendary status, we've got let the old idea of them go.

This means accepting that we might not like their music or their performance style all the time.

Some of us will go with them on the journey and some of us will get off at this stop, but isn't it more exciting than just knowing what to expect?

Just like our 20s, we still have the music and the memories to look back on, but we largely accept our lives aren't the same.

Growing up is hard to do, but we've all got to do it. So why not just let Alex Turner, Matt Helders Jamie Cook and Nick O'Malley get on with it?

Arctic Monkeys - The Car: Track By Track

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Why Arctic Monkeys' AM is their most important album

Arctic Monkeys outside their show at Glasgow's Carling Academy, 27 January 2006

These Arctic Monkeys photos make us nostalgic for the 00s

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Watch Arctic Monkeys' epic acoustic version of Do I Wanna Know?

Arctic Monkeys in the early days

What did Arctic Monkeys play at their first gig?


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