Arctic Monkeys accused of ‘butchering’ Glastonbury set: ‘Just play your belters!’

Sheffield rock band played a number of popular hits from their back catalogue, but many in the audience at Worthy Farm and fans watching from home were left feeling unsatisfied

Tom Murray,Louis Chilton
Saturday 24 June 2023 01:02 BST
Arctic Monkeys play Glastonbury 2023

Arctic Monkeys drew a mixed reaction from the Glastonbury crowd and viewers at home for their headline set on Friday (23 June).

Fears that Alex Turner would be unable to perform after coming down with laryngitis earlier this week were assuaged by Glastonbury co-founder Emily Eavis at the last minute, as she confirmed that Turner was well enough to play.

The Arctic Monkeys had dropped out of a gig in Dublin earlier in the week, and it wasn’t until Friday afternoon that the band’s headline slot was confirmed to be still going ahead.

Keep up to date with all the updates at our Glastonbury live blog here…

However, on the night, some fans were disappointed at the lack of songs from the Sheffield band’s earlier albums, which include Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not and Favourite Worst Nightmare. This was their third time topping the bill at the legendary music festival, following head slots in 2007 and 2013.

Others, including The Independent’s culture and lifestyle news editor Roisin O’Connor, complained that the band were performing their hits at a sedentary pace, appearing to prefer ballads over bangers.

Fans voiced their discontent on Twitter.

“Alex Turner just off the stage after butchering what could of been an iconic Glasto performance,” one wrote.

Others shared clips of fans yawning in the crowd.

“I don't know why Alex Turner is singing like that but honestly kids, Arctic Monkeys used to be good,” wrote another fan, alongside a photo of the band in their early days.

Football pundit Jamie Carragher added: “Don’t play your new stuff at Glastonbury Arctic Monkey’s. Just play your belters!!!!!!”

Long-time Arctic Monkeys fan Ian Scott, 58, who attended the show with his two children, told The Guardian: “The old stuff - everyone loved it. I don’t mind some of the slower stuff but when it’s live it’s different. It makes it harder to sing with him.”

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His son, Angus, told the publication: “They have lost a lot of love with the last two albums – they’re totally different albums.”

Others, however, defended the band from its detractors.

“Arctic Monkeys are quality. Turner is obvs playing some stage character and people get wound up by it,” one tweeted.

“Folk have some strange obsession with nostalgia, so think they all should be singing about chippys and bouncers still. And they don’t, so assume it’s s***.”

“People who think Arctic Monkeys playing their songs slightly slower makes them boring are genuinely children,” argued another.

The Independent’s critic in attendance gave the set five stars, writing: “Turner is in strong voice, with no sign of the laryngitis that forced them to cancel a midweek show in Dublin and threatened, until the last minute, to derail tonight’s set.

“Crowd members agitating for ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ get their wish, and Turner, who now looks feral, seems determined to deliver an all-time performance. Closer ‘R U Mine’ delivers – a showcase for the rhythm section that has always made Arctic Monkeys one of the most effective live rock bands on the planet.”

Elsewhere, reviews were more mixed, with The Guardian awarding the performance three stars.

“There are moments that feel like lulls, when the audience lose interest and start drifting elsewhere,” the review reads.

The Times also gave the headline set three stars, describing the band as “more stylish than explosive” on the night.

The Arctic Monkeys have previously headlined Glastonbury in 2007 and then again in 2013.

The other stars to take the Pyramid Stage this year are Guns N’ Roses and Sir Elton John.

You can find the full line-up and stage times for Glastonbury 2023 here.

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