​It's Been 15 Years Since Arctic Monkeys Played Their First Gig – Where They Were Paid £27

If you're of a certain age, lauded Sheffield outfit Arctic Monkeys have probably been a big part of your journey from adolescence to adulthood. Many of their songs still give you that rush of nostalgia whenever you hear one come on in a bar or an the radio at work. They've been with you through it all.

Their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, is sometimes thought of as a concept album regarding young northerners, hitting clubs and getting pissed. This was most likely the soundtrack to drinking cans in parks, house parties, getting into clubs without ID, your first relationship (which also became your first break-up) and more besides.

The band's transition into the darker sounds of Favourite Worst Nightmare echoes the switch to being an older and slightly more responsible teen, albeit one that still likes a bit of mischief now and again. Chances are you screamed the lyrics to 'Fluorescent Adolescent' at the top of your lungs with your mates, as you wished for the freedom of mid-teenage years to return.

As you got even older, and the days of garden-hopping and blagging your way into clubs stopped, the Monkeys' music grew up along with you.

2009's Humbug signalled a change in lyrical content, as well as musical style, but it was still great. The same goes for the following albums, Suck It and See and AM.

Then, of course, there was a bit of a lull as Alex Turner took a break from the band to reignite his side project The Last Shadow Puppets, alongside Birkonian songwriter Miles Kane, releasing another number one album in the form of Everything You've Come To Expect.

But the group returned a month ago with sixth studio album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino - which proved so popular that it managed to outsell the rest of the top 20 combined.

Yep, the Monkeys have been with us all the way - but have you ever wondered about the band's origins?

It all started on 13 June 2003, as the fresh-faced Arctic Monkeys played their first gig at The Grapes in Sheffield, for a reported 27 quid ($36).

The four members - Alex Turner, Matt Helders, Jamie Cook and Andy Nicholson (the group's original bassist, soon replaced by Nick O'Malley) - formed the band in 2002 after discovering a mutual love for music.

Initially, Turner didn't fancy being centre stage singing the songs, so a few people tried out for the role of frontman. Eventually though, it became apparent that none of the hopefuls wouldn't make the grade and 16-year-old Turner took to the mic, singing his own lyrics.

Man, can you imagine how different things could have been without Turner as the lead?

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

They'd rehearse in his and Helders' garages, before going to an unused warehouse. At this point, they were still quite reserved and didn't really like playing in front of people - Helders' mum commented: "If they knew you were there, they would just stop so we had to sneak in... Half the time, though, they were playing table tennis."

Soon though, their confidence improved and the band played their first gig, after Turner briefly played as a rhythm guitarist for funk band Judan Suki (fronted by Jon McClure, who would go on to sing with Reverend and the Makers).

After just a few performances the four lads recorded demos at 2fly studios, 18 of which went onto become the unofficial album Beneath the Boardwalk. The demo album got burned onto CDs to give to fans at gigs, which led to audiences learning the words to their songs.

The tracklist was comprised of songs that would later appear on their first proper album, as well as future B-sides and the EP Who the Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys?

1. A Certain Romance
2. Bigger Boy and Stolen Sweethearts
3. Choo Choo
4. Cigarette Smoke
5. Dancin' Shoes
6. Fake Tales of San Francisco
7. Knock a Door Run
8. Mardy Bum
9. On the Run From the MI5
10. Riot Van
11. Scummy
12. Still Take You Home
13. Wavin' Bye to the Train or the Bus
14. Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
15. Stickin' to the Floor
16. Space Invaders
17. Curtains Closed
18. Ravey Ravey Ravey Club (Live)

The CDs often got passed on, thus reaching a bigger audience. As new listeners lapped up the songs, a fan-created Arctic Monkeys MySpace page appeared, which the band members themselves didn't really know about.

This led to the band being noticed outside of Sheffield, though they weren't really aware of it. They're sometimes touted as the first 'internet band', despite largely staying away from social media (and still do to this day).

Alex Turner once said in an interview with radio.com: "You know how like, The Beach Boys didn't really surf? Well, we're the internet band that didn't really... 'surf'."

In 2005, two years after their first gig, they landed a record deal with Domino Records (home to Franz Ferdinand and The Kills), with their debut single 'I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor' going straight to number one in the UK. "Don't believe the hype," said a wry Turner at the start of the song's video.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

'When the Sun Goes Down' followed in the same footsteps of its predecessor, reaching number one. Their debut album followed suit, becoming the fastest-selling first effort in UK chart history.

The rest, as they say, was history.

Thankfully, after a five-year hiatus, the boys are finally back with the recent release of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

The new album - their first since 2013's AM - has marked something of a departure for the Sheffield LADs, and one question people keep asking is why Alex Turner swapped his guitar for a piano for the album.

He told BBC Radio 1: "The guitar had lost its ability to give me ideas. Every time I sat with a guitar I was suspicious of where it was gonna go. I had a pretty good idea of what I might be which is completely contrary to what I felt when I sat at the piano."

Turner added to the Sydney Morning Herald: "I've written loads of songs on that guitar, but then I reached a point where I knew the types of moves I always tend to make on the guitar. So I scurried off towards the piano and started to look for ideas there."

Something tells us they'll be getting paid just *a little* bit more than £27 for their upcoming sold-out tour...

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist at LADbible. Jess graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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