set list

How the Arctic Monkeys Plan a Set List

Photo: Dave J Hogan/2011 Getty Images
Photo: Dave J Hogan/2011 Getty Images

Most groups warm up for a big American tour overseas, but the Arctic Monkeys, who play SummerStage today, are working things out here. “We enjoy playing in America because the pressure is off,” says lead guitarist Jamie Cook, who will be touring in support of the band’s new album Suck It and See. “In America, people are more willing to try things out. In the U.K., everyone wants to hear the big songs.” Below, Cook explains exactly how the band puts together a set list.

“The View From the Afternoon”
“When I saw the Strokes at Madison Square Garden, they started with the first song on their first album, and it was great. I thought we should do the same.”

“To start off the set, we play stuff people can dance to.”

:This House Is a Circus”
“We try to do five that are pretty fast-paced before people get bored, then we slow it down.”

“Still Take You Home”
“We have a lot of song names with long titles. By the end of the tour, they just become one word on the set list: ‘View,’ ‘Brian.’ This one is ‘Home.’ ”

“Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”
“This is the first new one, five songs in. Some people are waiting to hear it, and some people are going to be like, Fuck this! Why can’t they play an old one?

“Teddy Picker”
“We didn’t play this on the last album tour — we rested it. There are songs you think you’ll never play again, and then one day they just start to sound right again.”

“Crying Lightning”
“This one has a bit more of a groove — you could have a little sway to it, or just get a drink in, I suppose. That’s what I always do when a band plays my least-favorite song.”

“I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
“I imagine a fan bringing a date to our show who doesn’t know us that well. We play loads of new stuff, and when we get to ‘Dancefloor,’ he turns to her and says, ‘You’ll definitely know this one.’ If she says, ‘I don’t know this one either,’ that’s when maybe you shouldn’t see much of her again. We’re helping our fans: If they pass this test, it must be love!”

“The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala”
“When we’ve played the new album to friends, this one stuck in a lot of people’s heads — they leave humming it. It might be the next single.”

“A slow moment in the set. If she’s stayed this long, you can make out with her here.”

“Brick by Brick”
“Matt [Helders, drummer] sings this one off our new album, Suck It and See. It’s his singing debut!”

“If You Were There, Beware”
“Kind of a builder — at the very end it goes off, and the crowd just goes mad. It’s one of our favorites to play. It never seems to get dropped from the set list.”

“Pretty Visitors”
“Fast, loud, lots of drums: all the good stuff. We’re picking it back up again toward the end.”

“She’s Thunderstorms”
“We’d love to go out and be able to play twelve new songs, but that’s not really fair, so there are five new ones on here — this one opens the new album. At the first few gigs, the idea is to test them out and see how they go.”

“Do Me a Favour”
“We slow it back down again before the encore. This is a good moment to get an ice cream.”


“When the Sun Goes Down”
“You don’t come back on and play a B-side; you need a crowd-pleaser. You know the popularity bar they have on iTunes? This would be quite far up. Probably right behind ‘Dancefloor.’ ”

“That’s Where You’re Wrong”
“This is a new one, and we’ve never done a song that sounds quite like it before. I think it will go down well.”

“Fluorescent Adolescent”
“It’s good for singing along. For the last song, that’s what you need. That’s it! Let’s hope the sun shines, but just in case, bring an umbrella.”

How the Arctic Monkeys Plan a Set List