Last year, the explosion of Greta Van Fleet onto the 21st century rock scene was deafening. Although the oodles of Led Zeppelin comparisons were plenty paired with eye rolls and heated music forum debates, there was something wholly enthralling about GVF’s entrance into the eyes of the music industry, like watching an alien crawl out of a UFO. Where had they come from? The ‘ooh mama’s, the haunting blues spectres that float amongst their riffs, the magnetic pull of music mania: no matter how fleeting this band’s hype may turn out to be, there’s the satisfaction that a hollow in the jigsaw of contemporary rock’n’roll has been filled with at least a partial piece of the puzzle.
Naturally, this leaves a thirst – nay, a greed – for other music substitutes by children of the 21st century revolution who were robbed of Queen at Knebworth, or The Rolling Stones at MSG. On 18th October, London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town held its own Jurassic Park of regenerated music DNA. Moaning with the echo of jaded grandeur, the Forum was the setting for a new age holism of Queen, Bowie, Stones and Bolan, held within an entity known as The Struts.
Prior to The Struts’ entrance were Kyle Falconer, frontman of indie Scottish band The View, who played a string of charming, tender-hearted soft rock numbers that were concluded with rowdy folk foot-stomper “Witches” from The View’s repertoire, and King Nun. The antithesis to the neon bubble-glam rock of The Struts, King Nun were a heavy storm cloud of clunky alt rock that culminated in the crazed smashing of frontman Theo Polyzoides’ guitar (R.I.P.).
Following an intro tape to Gary Glitter’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Part 2)” – a strange yet topical choice to say the least, given the past week’s controversy surrounding the use of the track in Joker – and an ear-piercing siren, The Struts peacocked onto the stage with ceremonial swagger. Adorned in co-ordinated sleek black and lacquer red ensembles – ever-extravagant frontman Luke Spiller taking the fashion crown in a red and black vinyl suit complete with leg and arm tassels – The Struts burst into the pomp’n’roll of “Primadonna Like Me” before launching into the mischievous, jitteringly contagious “Body Talks”. “If you’re not ready to dance, you might as well fuck off and leave!” declared Spiller, his be-glittered eyes beaming with impish magnetism under the golden-hued lighting.
Spiller devoured spectators’ attention with the ease of a black hole, concocting a sea of jazz hands at his beck and call and successfully commanding everyone to crouch down to the ground during “Where Did She Go” so they could explode upwards on cue and be his “very own fireworks”. Greatest sympathies were with the cameraman trying to navigate his way around Spiller’s charisma when filming a one-take music video throughout anthem of youth “Fire – Part 1”. It is no wonder that murmurs of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie permeate commentary around The Struts’ live footage: Spiller’s mesmerising frontman stature – and vocal vigour – looms with undeniable grandiosity alike to the greats. Spiller’s vocals were stellar throughout, blazing like enflamed charcoal, crisp with heat but often melting into feathery ashes of velveteen melody, as during the piano ardour of “One Night Only”, which saw Spiller lavish a luxuriously white piano with showman ceremony.
Other than an indulgent ‘rock star solo’ segment from guitarist Adam Slack, Slack, drummer Gethin Davies and bassist Jed Elliott were earnestly understated in presence, but bolstered Spiller’s diva spins and stag leaps with sunbeam-saturated melody and bulking rhythm. Though it could often feel like ‘The Luke Show’, it would be hard for anyone to neglect the credit these instrumentalists are due – from the sexy, city heartbeat bass of “I Do It So Well” to the rock’n’roll lightning of Slack’s solo in “Put Your Money On Me”.
The set navigated through a whole host of encore-worthy nuggets, whilst the encore itself was a cleverly crafted, poignant slow burner through three phases of emotion, starting with the heart-wrenching “Somebody New”, leading into the rousing “Ashes – Part 2” and finishing with the rock’n’royal majesty of “Could Have Been Me”. “Remember the name – The Struts!” Spiller insists as the set drew to a close – however could anyone possibly forget?
Catch The Struts on tour in 2019/2020:
Oct 19 – O2 Academy Leicester – Leicester, UK
Oct 20 – O2 Academy Bournemouth – Bournemouth, UK
Oct 22 – O13 – Tilburg, Netherlands [SOLD OUT]
Oct 23 – Zappa – Antwerp, Belgium
Oct 24 – Le Trianon – Paris, France
Oct 25 – Burgerhaus Stollwerck – Cologne, Germany
Oct 27 – Columbia Theatre – Berlin-altglienicke, Germany
Oct 28 – Technikum – Munich, Germany
Oct 29 – Fabrique – Milan, Italy
Dec 28 – The Fillmore Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA [SOLD OUT]
Dec 29 – The Fillmore Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA
Dec 31 – Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville – Nashville, TN
Mar 1 – Innings Festival – Tempe, AZ