Concert Review: The Struts
Lest we forget that rock-n-roll isn’t all limousines and champagne, The Struts’ Luke Spiller listed off the band’s grueling 24 hours in Las Vegas halfway through a sweat drenched set at Brooklyn Bowl. Landing in Vegas after a ten hour flight from London at 10:30pm on Thursday night, the band had a few hours to adjust to the new time zone before heading over to Caesar’s Palace for a 2am video shoot that went well into the daylight hours. The rest of the day was then spent getting ready for tonight’s almost two-hour show which included more filming of the video for new single “Primadonna Like Me”. Despite the lack of sleep, Spiller and the rest of the band commanded the stage like stars and held a raptured audience in the palm of their hands.
Unlike The Darkness, or even Foxy Shazam, there isn’t a knowing wink between band and audience when The Struts crank out their glam-rock anthems. The comparisons to Queen, Bowie, and the Rolling Stones are not unfounded musically but The Struts aren’t playing up the retro-fetishism of their sound ironically. They just happen to be one of the few bands this century who have the swagger and licks worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as those legendary bands. Much like Queen, the band has a rock-solid rhythm section, a brilliantly inventive guitarist and a larger-than-life frontman who embodies the spirit of rock-n-roll. Best of all, their songs live up to the hype.
With a new album due in a few months, tonight’s performance might be one of the last shows to pull heavily from the band’s sparkling debut Everybody Wants. If the band has grown tired of the older material, they hide it well. “Put Your Money On Me” and “Kiss This” sounded brand new and even if you didn’t know every song, you found yourself singing along before each song was over. Picture perfect guitarist Adam Slack did the unthinkable in 2018 and delivered several extended solos while Spiller disappeared for costume changes. Rather than igniting the glow of people checking cell phones, Slack’s bluesy sound kept everyone totally engaged.
The Struts’ audience, a mix of middle-aged classic rock fans, young glam-rockers, and even some punks, all raised their arms with Spiller and turned the venue into a rock-n-roll church throughout the night. With cameras rolling, “Primadonna Like Me” shook the floors as the band added yet another memorable single to arsenal. At one point in the evening, the band pulled back and Spiller convinced the entire audience to sit on the sticky floors until jumping in unison when the band kicked back in. For anyone who has experienced the jaded, too-cool-to-have-fun crowd at Vegas rock shows, it was everything that has been missing in live music.
A revved up cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In the Dark” included an audience member being chosen to play the infamous role of Courtney Cox. In lesser hands, the moment would have felt trite but The Struts sell it with their honest love of rock-n-roll history. By the time the band returned for an encore with “Could Have Been Me”, the night had become more than a memorable concert. The Struts, running on no sleep, found a way to cut through our apathetic skins and make us bleed rock-n-roll again. When it was over, the hundred deep line at the merch table told the story: The Struts were the greatest rock-n-roll band in the world tonight.