It's been four years since The Arctic Monkeys have graced us with their presence. In that time they have released three number one albums, won countless gongs and awards and swapped the toilet circuit for the luxurious comfort of UK arenas. Without over-exaggeration or hyperbole they have defined themselves as a band of a generation.
Musically speaking they return to Belfast an almost completely different product than the one that visited The Limelight four years ago. Gone is the zeitgeist encapsulating kitchen sink drama that spawned their most fruitful foray with the charts and in is the dark alt-rock brood that is like skunk stink to the charts but which sees the band in control, forging a life-time career in an unsteady industry.
Tonight is no greatest hits tour, tonight is firmly about showcasing new album Humbug. They open with the slow grind that is Dance Little Liar. The anticipation in the audience is feverish but soon dies down after the initial elation of glimpsing the Monkeys. This seems to be a recurring theme of the night.
Tracks of Humbug are greeted with bemusement by the fans here to see The Monkeys of three years ago. Songs such as Brianstorm, Fluorescent Adolescent and I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor act as a defence mechanism for the band to try out their new material. Their intent is to introduce us to their new material, much to the dismay of some, but before plans of a mutiny or revolt begin to formulate the band crack open the hit factory and remind the surface fans why they loved them in the first place.
New tracks such as Potion Approaching and My Propeller sound much meatier and full live, than on record. Those tracks in particular are great examples of a band crossing the boards from a great indie band to a full on rock monster akin to Queens Of The Stone Age.
The driving forces behind this new behemoth of rock are Jamie Cook and Matt Helders. Helders is dangerous viewing in the fact that his drumming is so mesmerising that someone could have lit your feet on fire and you wouldn't be completely oblivious while Cooks' new sleazy guitar licks lead the charge in the Arctic's new campaign to become RAWK Gods. Of course it would be rude to leave out our wee Alex. He ambles awkwardly about the stage, a more astute commentator may think he is a little drunk but I couldn't possibly comment. As usual in the Alex Turner school of working the crowd the interaction is left to a minimum as the songs are left to do the talking.
The last time the Arctic Monkeys rolled into Belfast they did so on a gust of a media hype storm, proclaiming them to be the next best band since The Rolling Stones asked God to play lead guitar, and all this before they even released a single. In 2005 they were shy spotty boys (teenagers) that were awkward in front of the media and monosyllabic in crowd interaction. In that respect not much has changed, they are still fairly inhibited in their stage presence, but they have proven that they can live up to the almost unachievable goals set to them by the public. Viva la Arctic Monkeys.