The Struts tear the Roof Off
The Struts are one of those bands that can’t ever be completely appreciated unless you see them live. I am sure I was not the only fan hoping for the band, who has for a very long time been away in the States, to come back to the UK following the release of their second album, Young and Dangerous. Judging from the size of the excited crowd filling up SWX I was not the only one to jump on tickets when they announced the UK tour either.
The support was offered by Kelsy Karter, who delivered a solid rock set. Holding some promise for the future, if not completely convincing in the present. Karter has a voice that could well put her in the same tradition as Cindi Lauper and a good supporting band, particularly strong on lead guitar; so it might be worth keeping an eye on what she’ll do in the future.
When the Struts take the stage, though, the evening picks up an entirely different pace. They start on a high, delivering in rapid succession singles from their new album, Primadonna Like Me and Body Talks. Both high-powered, quick-paced numbers that leave the audience buzzing. The former in particular is like a love child of T. Rex and the Rolling Stones, and the band performs it with a chaotic abandon straight out of the Seventies. The rest of the set included tracks from both of their
Rarely one can find a band where all components share the same outstanding charisma and stage presence. Guitarist Adam Slack launches in a couple heavily technical solos; the one in Fire stands out for both intensity and finesse. Vocalist Luke Spiller is almost perfectly in voice, flying over the high notes in In Love With A Camera and regaling the audience with a highly emotional rendition of Mary Go Round. Spiller is an absolute powerhouse of a performer; few frontmen on the rock scene have his striking stage presence or his apparently effortless ability to keep the audience enthralled without sacrificing any of the quality of his singing.
SWX is the perfectly sized venue for this band – small enough to create a genuine connection with the audience but roomy enough to not subtract anything from stage antics. It is hardly a surprise that the band was vociferously asked for an encore, which ended in cathartic collective singing with Could Have Been Me.
Their Bristol show confirms the Struts as a particularly strong live band. If anything, their live performance makes the studio version of many of their tracks pale by comparison. It was an evening of true rock, and one that those present will not forget soon.
Words by Chiara Strazzulla @Thestrazzulla
Chiara was born in Sicily and lives in Cardiff. She’s a novelist and freelance journalist with a lifelong love of music, from glam to punk by way of blues and country.