“I always wanted to be one of the Strokes,” crooned Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner at the start of the sold-out Friday night show, an amazing hour and 15 minutes under the stars. Although their latest album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, which dropped last May, introduced a more piano-heavy, psychedelic-pop harmony to the U.K. band’s repertoire, their Bowl appearance made it clear that they have not abandoned their classic garage-rock sound.
Peppered throughout the set were old favorites like “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” and “Crying Lightning,” which had the audience headbanging and moshing in the pit. Turner quickly followed the opening song, “Star Treatment,” with the band’s Grammy-nominated hit, “Do I Wanna Know?” from 2013’s AM. In addition to songs being sprinkled throughout their set, the band’s three song-encore came entirely from AM, ending the night with the notable electric guitar strum of “R U Mine?”
The Monkeys drifted with ease through their eclectic set list, transitioning seamlessly from bangers such as “Brainstorm” to the sway-inducing title song, “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.” The lineup’s juxtaposition made high-intensity songs hit harder while tunes from the more musically mild Tranquility Base sounded more delicate.
Turner didn’t say much but rather engaged the crowd with his actions, which included running around the stage, holding a classic Elvis stance, and lying on the stage floor. He’d also traded in his usual black jacket and slicked-back hair for a shaved head and an all-beige suit, making him look more like a casino hotshot than an English grunge-rock star.
The mix of hits from older and newer albums kept longtime and new fans singing and swaying along. Sure, Turner once dreamt of being in the Strokes, but the music he’s released over the years shows that he’s taken his early Stroke-esque sound and developed it into something entirely his own.