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Arctic Monkeys Middlesbrough: When the sun goes down, the town shone bright

From The Arena to the Riverside Stadium.

It was 18 years ago when the Arctic Monkeys first appeared on a Middlesbrough stage.

On Monday night, they returned – bigger, better and more coiffeured – to deliver a set which expertly weaved together two decades of songs, moments and emotions.

Some of the 30-odd thousand inside the Riverside were there the night the Arctic Monkeys first played here, at the now-closed Arena nightclub.

Last night, they bounced around to rarely played classics from that era like Mardy Bum and The View From The Afternoon with a significantly larger number of fans who won’t have even been born in 2005.

But that’s the magic – the chant-worthy guitar riffs, thundering drums and wry lyrics haven’t changed much, but the band haven’t stood still.

Four songs from their latest album, The Car, show the change in direction – string-led and set in a world of soft-jazz cocktail bars rather than indie clubs, they’re more considered and introspective.

Frontman Alex Turner has changed too, fully adopting the US lounge-lizard persona he’s developed over the past few years, sporting a cravat and gold-rimmed aviator sunglasses. The Yorkshire accent is back though, heard as he briefly addresses the crowd between songs.

He owns the stage, all melodramatic hand gestures and crouching croons, and brings the audience with him – the new songs aren’t opportunities to nip for a pint, but carefully crafted to slow everything down before they race back to familiar old favourites.

Talking of revisiting old favourites, it was brilliant to see Teessiders taking the chance to head to Middlesbrough’s heaving bars and restaurants – who will have no doubt made plenty of new fans for the future, too.

The Riverside Stadium fan zone for Arctic Monkeys

The Riverside Stadium fan zone for Arctic Monkeys

The Riverside fan zone was also packed on the stadium’s third time as a venue for a major UK stadium tour. There’s been 12 months of planning and hard work gone into attracting international stars to the town and hosting the event.

The sun went down, and the set closed with ‘R U Mine?’, a three-minute punch of singalong rock and roll to quicken the pulse – and then that was it. It had gone dark, but Middlesbrough had still shone on its big day.