TRNSMT: Arctic Monkeys @ Glasgow Green, 1 Jul

Arctic Monkeys lead the charge on day three of 2018's TRNSMT festival as Glasgow's heatwave continues

Live Review by Claire Francis | 05 Jul 2018

It’s day three of this year’s TRNSMT festival and we’re basking in another day of glorious sunshine as Glasgow’s heatwave continues. The combination of sunny skies and alcohol has always produced interesting results with a Scottish festival crowd and today is no exception. To say the huge mass of people spread across Glasgow Green are in high spirits would be a generous understatement.

The festival line-up has been predictably saturated with guitar bands so it’s a welcome relief to see some great programming at Smirnoff House, which we gather is TRNSMT’s equivalent of T in the Park's Slam Tent. Local jazz guru and DJ Rebecca Vasmant puts in an excellent, up-tempo mid-afternoon set which culminates in a sea of people bouncing happily to Armando's squelchy Don’t Take It.

Confidence Man also deliver one of the most vivacious sets of the day. The Australian group’s debut album Confident Music for Confident People is one of The Skinny's favourites of the year so far and their performance on the King Tut’s Stage more than does the record justice. There are costume changes, choreographed dance moves and infectious levels of energy, no doubt aided by the fact that today happens to be co-vocalist Sugar Bones’ birthday.

We catch Interpol in a much more introspective mood. Dressed uniformly in black the stalwart post-punk revivalists have caught the mid-evening slump – though they still draw a large audience of faithful fans, there’s a vitality that’s missing from their performance. Despite their ability to punch out a solid rhythm-heavy hit it’s an underwhelming show that only Interpol die-hards would truly appreciate.

Stopping in to headline TRNSMT day three with the only UK festival performance they've booked this summer, Arctic Monkeys are the weekend’s main drawcard. Their sixth LP Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino has proved divisive, particularly for fans who were expecting another rock'n'roll stomper in the vein of 2013’s AM (though it only takes a couple of listens to The Last Shadow Puppets' underrated 2016 release Everything You've Come to Expect to recognise the sonic direction Turner’s songwriting was taking). Basically there’s an air of anticipation – will Arctic Monkeys' new material stand up against their formidable back catalogue on stage?

If there was any doubt about how this latest suite of songs would fit into the grander Monkeys narrative, triumphant set opener Four Out of Five proves that Tranquility Base has its share of festival-friendly hits. In an off-white safari suit, his hair greased back and face cleanly shaven, Turner looks at ease throughout the entire performance, and his confidence and humour lift new songs One Point Perspective, Star Treatment and Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino to unexpected heights.

Democratically, the bulk of the set is dedicated to old favourites, much to the delight of the crowd. As though rewarding the audience for embracing Four Out of Five, they follow with Favourite Worst Nightmare opener Brianstorm and then Don’t Sit Down 'Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair (which is sadly the only part of Suck It and See that makes the cut tonight). AM’s hits are peppered throughout, giving the performance a stadium-sized boost fans are hungry for; Arabella and Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? elicit ear-splitting singalongs. It’s hands down the most fun performance of the day, and hopefully has encouraged plenty of Arctic Monkeys fans to go home, stick Tranquilty Base on and give it the attention it deserves.

Sheffield's favourite band aside, today's line-up has left us feeling less inspired than we ought to be for a festival of this scale. The programming too often defaults to white-male-indie-rock, and the male-to-female ratio is still disappointingly patriarchal. TRNSMT is Scotland’s opportunity to deliver a large-scale event that reflects the wealth and breadth of musical talent, both from our own country and beyond, but for most of the people in the audience here today it seems to amount to just a drunken day in the sun.