Too Much Monkey Business?

It's just over 10 months since the Arctic Monkeys were playing a rammed gig at King Tuts in Glasgow to a few hundred excited souls and here we find them third on the bill on the main stage at T in The Park. As no one needs to be told, it has been quite a year for these lads and with no sign of it stopping anytime soon.

The crowd was massive and there was a sense of people waiting for something big to happen. The main stage at T these days is extremely mainstream, it's common for many people to not move from there all day and just be happy to see whoever is planted in front of them, as the main stage is no longer the place for experimentation or innovation at T.

That said, it seemed as though everyone knew of the Arctic Monkeys and most of the songs were sung along to lustily, with the sounds being right even if the words bore no resemblance to whatever Alex Turner was yelping out. Talking about the lyrical frontman, he really needs to get that hair sorted out, the boys have had a busy year but unless he is really trying to break the American market, a small trim may be in order.

Opener 'The View From The Afternoon' pounded away with its heavy drumming and stop-start guitars and the baying crowd had their wish, finally a band they could jump and hug around to, a band playing something that they know and actually liked.

From there though, something strange happened, the band seemed to lose momentum and perhaps looking out at the swell of people who had come to watch had knocked the boys off their stride a bit. The connection between band and people faltered and a run of songs from the recent ep and forthcoming single 'Leave Before The Lights Come On' meandered by without making much of an impact.

For the first time this year, this writer found his thoughts meandering at an Arctic Monkeys gig and the usual hysteria and general craziness was fading away for a little bit. Obviously the band was saving all the big numbers for the end, and boy did they ever, but for once, a spark and an edge was missing. Perhaps tiredness was creeping or the enormity of what they have achieved over the past year was setting in.

In their own words, bring on the backlash? Clearly not, the Arctic Monkeys have done amazingly well in the past few years and for anyone looking to be upset about them potentially taking their foot off the gas needs a reality check. Their music at its best is still astounding and they have already lost one member this year.

New bass player Nick O'Malley seems to have settled in well and it should hopefully have no long term negative impact on the bands future.

So after a so-so middle, was the set still a victory? Just about, yes. With a final flourish consisting of 'When The Sun Goes Down', 'Mardy Bum', 'Fake Tales of San Francisco' and 'A Certain Romance' the final thoughts of the set were all ones of joyous celebration and of what a good social commentarist Alex Turner is. 'A Certain Romance' is a jewel of a song, perhaps not as favoured as it is not a single but the melody combining with the tales of city-life cuts across any generation or economic class and sums up where the band are coming from.

With another set of big headlining slots scheduled for Reading and Leeds, and a new album reportedly scheduled for early next year, it's unlikely that the Arctic Monkeys are going to disappear any time soon. Let's just hope the band's ambition and drive can keep up with the hopes and expectations of their fans.