Monkey Mania stops off in Newcastle

You could really feel the anticipation before this one. There was none of that late rush to get in which is so often the case, the venue was packed even as early as eight. Given the challenge most people had simply getting a ticket, the Newcastle public were determined to make this a night to remember.

Arctic Monkeys treated fans to tracks from their number one album, as well as their new EP 'Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys''; the latter is due out later this month. They played for around an hour, starting at quarter to nine and were comfortably finished by ten. This seemed very unusual, however they did have to make way for the Bullet Proof club night which takes over Newcastle Academy on a Saturday night.

The set opened with the acoustic track from 'Whatever You Say I Am...' and although 'Riot Van' might seem an unlikely choice it actually worked really well, with the quieter track morphing into 'View From the Afternoon'. The album opener and lead track from their forth coming EP was the one which really launched the crowd into a frenzy.

The next major crowd pleaser was 'Mardy Bum'. Strangely this was dropped from the set list for the NME tour, and it makes a very welcome return this time around.

In a show which ran for around an hour there was little time for any lull, but there were no points where the songs were greeted with anything less than hysteria, even those from the new EP which even the die-hards would have been seeing live for the first time. Obviously 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' was a major highlight when it arrived roughly halfway through the night. Another popular album track was 'Dancing Shoes'.

There was no real encore to speak of, but heavyweight tracks 'When The Sun Goes Down' and 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco' came near the end of the night. 'From The Ritz To The Rubble' and 'A Certain Romance' closed the evening, as they do the album.

If you've never seen Arctic Monkeys play live before it's interesting how the sound of the songs don't seem to vary much from the record, a nod of credit towards the way their music is recorded with a strong live air to it.

This is the band's first set of UK headlining shows since Monkey Mania exploded around the release of their debut album at the start of the year. I think even though the strength of the songs is without question, some of the edginess and raw excitement whenever they take to the stage is lost as the venues they play get larger. That said given the demand to see this band, sadly the only people to really benefit from an Arctic Monkeys pub tour would be the ticket tout vultures who make their living from flogging to desperate fans on Ebay.

If you're off to one of the shows later in the tour you will undoubtedly have a great night out, only stupid people won't. Watching them at Reading and Leeds this summer on the main stage will be very interesting, especially given that Reading 2005 was the moment the world had no choice but to take note. Twelve months on will it be one of the live events of the year? Will it be a case of too big far too quick, or simply the middle ground of just another decent night out? ... We await the next episode of Monkey Mania with interest.