The Last Shadow Puppets @ Alexandra Palace, London, 16/07/2016

The Last Shadow PuppetsAfter an 8-year hiatus, The Last Shadow Puppets (Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner and best pal Miles Kane) have taken 2016 by storm with a cocksure and often humorous lesson in true showmanship.

For this year's tour, Turner and Kane have been joined on stage by two thirds of LA glam pop band Mini Mansions; a string quartet; and (for tonight at least) iconic British guitar hero Johnny Marr. Walking on to orange lights and streams of pink confetti, The Last Shadow Puppets open with The Smiths’ eternally dreamy "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me", the first of three covers tonight. Confidently poised with an expensive leather jacket draped over his shoulders, Turner croons his way through The Smiths’ classic with the calm professionalism that has seen him headline Glastonbury Festival twice and play at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2012. One does wonder if legendary London venue Alexandra Palace’s 10,000 capacity would be considered ‘intimate’ by Turner’s standards. Yet while his too-cool-for-school front may rub some as being cliche, it’s impossible to deny that his confidence and showmanship makes for a world-class performance. The fact of the matter is that there are very few British musicians currently that could take to the stage of Alexandra Palace and keep the audience in the palm of their hands throughout, as Turner so easily does tonight.

After the Marr assisted opening, the band quickly move into early single "Standing Next To Me"; fan-favourite and the spark that ignites the delighted audience. Tonight the group play a selection of songs from recent album Everything You’ve Come To Expect and their debut, The Age of the Understatement. The Last Shadow Puppets begin the first segment of their set with a darker run of songs; including the sleazy "Used To Be My Girl"; the gothic horror-inspired "Dracula Teeth"; and a rare outing of debut album cut "Separate and Ever Deadly". If recent performances at Glastonbury and T In the Park saw Turner largely dominating the limelight, tonight’s performance finds the pair’s bromance toned down as the they take turns in occupying center stage. Kane proves himself as a true entertainer, going suitable wild on "Bad Habits" and delivering an impressive vocal performance during "Aviation".

Marr returns again aided by a giant disco ball for "The Element of Surprise", before he and the band break into a cover of The Fall’s "Totally Wired". It’s an odd choice for a band who’s own output is dominated by Bond theme-esque strings, but it works due to the track’s energy and Kane’s hyperactive delivery. The crowd erupts during a mass-singalong of "The Age of the Understatement" and recent single "Miracle Aligner", while "The Dream Synopsis" finds Turner guitar-less, frolicking around in a sea of pink confetti. Though short on words between songs, Turner’s few choice comments successfully charm the audience - his delivery of “wacky angle, baby” to a nearby cameraman mid-song was particularly amusing. After a stripped back rendition of "Everything You’ve Come To Expect" for the encore, the double-whammy of "Sweet Dreams, TN" and "Meeting Place" reach euphoric heights, with Turner’s voice having never sounded better. The evening ends with an inspired tribute to David Bowie in the form of "Moonage Daydream", a cover of his Ziggy Stardust-era masterpiece.

While reviews for Everything You’ve Come To Expect were mixed, there’s no denying the dynamic mix of cinematic strings and soaring vocals work wonderfully live, even if Kane’s  electric guitar is mixed a little quietly. The Last Shadow Puppets critics and cynics would undoubtedly be silenced tonight, as this tour has proven that both artists are operating at the top of their game. Even by their own standards, tonight’s majestic gig is something of a career highlight.

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      […] Read my review of The Last Shadow Puppets’ triumphant Alexandra Palace gig over at DrunkenWerewolf here. […]

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