Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
There’s more than a hint of all of the bands that I grew up listening to on both the studio output and live performances from The Struts. All too often we are faced with live bands these days that are technically proficient and yes, they may even have the tunes that have resulted in people paying good money to see them live but the skill required to put on a show, in keeping with those energised bands of the 70s seems to be a bit of a lost art.
The Struts remind us of a time of colour, flare(s) and flamboyance. The likes of Slade, T-Rex, The Sweet and the cream of the crop, Queen all knew how to put on a show. There was no social media back then, no spotify, no simple access to information about a band other than the popular music press so it was down to a band to deliver on stage to get noticed and have their performances recorded by journalists and photographers so that word could spread organically. It was the performance that drew the crowds, the word of mouth that filtered around the country and, as the performances continued with gusto, so did the band’s reputation.
All of the above are know for incendiary live shows, bringing the outfits, the live musicianship and, of course, the songs as well. The lost art of writing a catchy song that appeals to hardcore fans and the mainstream music buying public as well. Over the years several bands have tried to replicate that zest and flamboyance of the 70s, The Darkness being one of just a handful of notable successes that have bothered the upper echelons of the charts.
With that in mind, The Struts have gone from zero to hero in the shortest of time. Initially honing their trade in the wildnerness that is known as Derbyshire, the band have relocated to the US and on the back of some major support slots with the biggest stadium rock acts on the planet, have garnered an immense following that saw them return home to the UK to a rapturous response.
The Shepherds Bush show was, of course, sold out. They could have easily filled The Forum in Kentish Town, in fact I was so convinced they could have sold out that venue I went there first before realising my schoolboy error and hot tailing it over to Shepherds Bush.
The band are promoting their sophomore album Young And Dangerous, a great follow up to the debut Everybody Wants and the combination of tracks from the pair made for an immense night of high energy fun for all. Opening with Primadonna Like Me, frontman Luke Spiller, looking every inch 1974 era Freddie Mercury was a ball of energy and smiles to an equally enthusiastic and receptive crowd. What followed then was a 90 minute set of absolute belters including personal favourite Kiss This.
In the UK, audiences can have a determined “I’ve paid for a ticket so entertain me !” approach to concert going. The interaction that bands crave is often missing as grumpy Brits stand there arms folded before leaving a venue and exclaiming “well that was rather good!” If it was that good then why the hell didn’t you throw yourself into the performance as well? Too busy watching the show through your phone probably!
This time however things were different. I’ve never seen an entire audience engage with a band to the same degree the Empire crowd did. Everything Spiller asked for, he got, including a reenactment of the Courtney Cox moment with Bruce Springsteen on the classic Dancing in the Dark video. One lucky young lady is pulled up onto stage and away they go with Spiller and the girl in question performing some pretty good coordinated dance moves. Fair play to to Luke, it’s a lasting impression that will stay with her for many years and helps as mentioned above, spread the word about the band.
The other band members added their own flair to the show. Guitarist Adam Slack wearing a low slung Les Paul looking as cool as a cucumber. Bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies driving the sound from the back, perhaps a little less noticeable than the other two but no less necessary to a Struts show!
The only thing missing was a more prominent piano – located next to the drum kit, the moments when Spiller played it meant he got lost at the back of the stage a little. Freddie wouldn’t have allowed that, heck he’d have insisted on a grand piano being in place for him. You could have probably put that on the stage at The Forum you know…
Otherwise, a complete triumph and a set that more than the 1500 or so the Empire holds will claim they attended. Great things await this very exciting band from my home city!
Primadonna Like Me
In Love With a Camera
Fire (Part 1)
Dirty Sexy Money
One Night Only
Mary Go Round
Dancing in the Dark – (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Put Your Money on Me
Where Did She Go
Ashes (Part 2)
Could Have Been Me