OK a few things to get out the way first:
I love The Struts. Like really, really love them. Makes doing an objective review tricky but I’ll try.
Secondly I have a couple of issues with them. One: They’re too good for their own good and
Two: Live, they are bad for my knees. (I’m 46 you know).
So, too good for their own good? Debut album Everybody Wants is as good a debut rock album as there has ever been. There isn’t a weak track in there. Can an album be too good? Well my favourite track is Black Swan. It’s track 10 on an 11 track album. When I first played the album I hardly noticed Black Swan due to the brilliance that had come before. It wasn’t till it came on random play that I recognised what a gem of a song it is.
Am I advocating filler tracks? Hell no. It’s more a word to myself to maintain full concentration even under a Struts bombardment.
Right, The Struts live. Too good for their own good? This was their 3rd visit to Sheffield this year. I’m lucky enough to have seen all three. I was left speechless at The Harley the first time I saw them. It was a definite ‘what have I just seen moment’.
At Tramlines they were part of the line-up of the weekend at Crystal. They stole, not only that gig, but the whole of Tramlines. I’d told so many people they need to see them live and fervently hoped they could deliver what I’d seen at The Harley. They did. And then some. From the off Luke Spiller had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Things were a bit different this time round. The crowd knew what to expect. Whereas before The Struts (and Luke in particular) grab you by the balls from the off and drag you through a whirlwind of pure glam show business this time a large proportion of the crowd had their collective chastity belts firmly locked waiting to see if The Struts could find the key. It took a couple of songs. Luke eking out every ounce of his considerable stagecraft to finally get every single member of the crowd on board. By the end of Could Have Been Me everyone was along for the ride.
It is hard not to just focus on Luke Spiller. I mentioned after The Harley gig how it seemed that Bowie, Jagger, Mercury and Bolan had somehow had a child, dipped him in glitter and raised him on The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (with Dr. Frank-N-Furter looking on as the sleazy uncle). He is simply the greatest showman since Freddie.
This can distract sometimes from the pure musical brilliance of the band. Adam Slack (my favourite Strut) is (if we’re gonna keep the 70s analogies going) a guitar hero. We’re due one. Name the last British rock guitar hero. I’ve met Adam a couple of times and he is a genuinely decent human being who (even on stage) seems humbled by the whole thing. I’m sure he sometimes thinks he’s in a quite wonderful dream. Well it’s all very real and all fully deserved.
Rhythm section (Jed Elliot – bass and Gethin Davies – drums) are as tight as they come. If you can draw your eyes away from Luke you can see how much work these guys put in. It all revolves around them. Not once is a beat missed.
Twice before Luke has had me on my knees (ahem) ready to leap in the air as the mighty sing-a-long of show closer Where Did She Go kicks in. This time he had us crouching three times. Once in the middle of a rampant Get It On with Luke in the crowd conducting an extended Mercuryesque call and response, the second time in, the frankly gorgeous, Matter Of Time were Luke’s voice (and let’s not forget he has the voice to back up all the theatricals) and Adam’s guitar serenade the crowd. And then of course once again in the finale. My knees wouldn’t have taken a fourth time.
Some cynics dismiss The Struts as just another Darkness. It’s a ludicrous statement. The Struts don’t have one bad song. The Darkness had several. And the Darkness became a parody of themselves almost immediately. The Struts take it right to the edge but never go over the top. They are fully aware of what they do. Maybe not the most original band but who is these days? The Struts simply do it better, way better, than anyone else.
The tour is nearly over. If there is any justice a well deserved rest is on the cards ready to storm next summer’s festival season. A second album to match Everybody Wants and the world really will be in the palm of Luke Spiller’s well-manicured hand.
The Struts deliver something we all need: Pure enjoyment. Long may it continue.
Could Have Been Me
Put Your Money On Me
She Makes Me Feel Like
You And I
Dirty Sexy Money
Get It On
Let’s Make This Happen
Matter Of Time
Where Did She Go
Words by : Simon Saynor.
Photography : Mark Loraine