Artist: The Struts, Bad Nerves
Venue: London: Kentish Town Forum
Date: 12th August 2023
But OMG The Struts, what an awesome time everyone had! Exhorting everyone to jump from the start of ‘Dirty Sexy Money’, Luke Spiller’s voice sounded amazing even though he was pogoing non stop.
Bad Nerves, with their slickly produced videos, cute frontman and hi energy Punk tunes, what could possibly go wrong? I don’t know, but they just didn’t do it for me, coming across as self-conscious and trying to be what they thought they should be, rather than really feeling it. I realise they’re a baby band. The guitarist was doing his best to pull some pretty successful axe man moves providing some good photo ops. Maybe they will grow into a style of their own as opposed to an attempt to be The Doors crossed with the Sex Pistols without A Grade tunes? I will reserve judgement. Other people seemed to enjoy them, or said they did at least. And I guess it’s difficult opening for one of the best bands on the planet.
But OMG The Struts, what an awesome time everyone had! Exhorting everyone to jump from the start of ‘Dirty Sexy Money’, Luke Spiller’s voice sounded amazing even though he was pogoing non stop. And the audience were with the band straightaway, singing all the words from the off. Should combining old Vaudeville moves with Freddie Mercury and catwalk poses, with a dash of R ‘n’ B moves work? I can only tell you that it does, and the girls were already screaming during ‘Body Talks’, swooning at lines like “Soon you’re gonna come”. My favourite ‘Fallin’ With Me’ was next and I can’t help singing, even though I am still photographing in the pit.
They have so many massive tunes now they can afford to let big ones go early in the set, and new single ‘Too Good At Raisin’ Hell’ is clearly already a crowd favourite. Had this band been out in the eighties and Spiller born in the seventies they would have had a string of number ones at that time, I have no doubt. Even though Rock based guitar tunes are currently losing in the charts to auto tuned AI (yawn), it is credit to this band that they still garner so much attention and so many die-hard fans. The tide has to turn soon surely? In any event, Spiller’s the biggest Rock star on the planet for many in the audience tonight.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll guitar from Adam Slack in ‘Kiss This’ kept that essentially Pop tune a-rockin’. It’s difficult to see onstage during ‘Primadonna Like Me’ with its Pop perfect chorus, as there were so many hands in the air, pointing and emphasising each beat of the song with a thrust. At times Spiller seemed breathless, and it just added sensuality to what he did. It also emphasised that everything is 100 per cent live, not done with tapes. As he shouted “Let’s Dance” for the plaintive guitar solo in ‘All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go)’ I was wondering how he gets the stamina to keep going, especially as he is dancing in amazing white Chelsea boots (with red lipstick mark prints all over them) which can’t be comfortable to even walk in. His adrenaline levels must be sky high to feel no pain.
Spiller retreated to the piano for the Queen-like epic ‘One Night Only’, letting the guitarists take the limelight centre stage and we were treated to a Brian May style guitar solo with lovely tone. Everyone is invited to get out their mobile phones for ‘Mary Go Round’ as Spiller let the crowd sing the words for him (when he’s not doing an extra long note for dramatic effect). He continued to work the crowd to make each person think he’s engaging with them for ‘Low Key In Love’.
By this point for the Lorde cover ‘Royals’ Spiller has removed his Union Jack colourway jacket to expose a simple black wifebeater and leather trousers which he kept for the rest of the show. Slack gets to play some heavier guitar for this one, nicely segueing into his traditional guitar solo, which started off light and got progressive heavier, bluesier and faster until he got an ovation This all led nicely into the Hendrix-y ‘Wild Child’. Next up was the title track from the new record ‘Pretty Vicious’, which has something of ‘Wicked Game’ about it, but with a harder edge, especially with the screams Spiller lets out on the chorus.
This concert went by in a flash and before I knew it we were already in the home straight with a high register Q and A singalong session with the crowd for ‘I Do It So Well’ which turns into the Rocked up, Beastie-Boy-like, shouty live version we know. ‘Where Did She Go’ had a compulsory mass swinging of both arms side to side and a Queen-like ending. ‘Put Your Money On Me’ with its stomping Glam Rock intro, competitive sing-off with two halves of the crowd, and a crouch and jump flash mob, made the whole crowd pogo for the rest of the catchy choruses, bringing the main set to an end.
Spiller took to the keys again for the encore ‘Fire’ for a solo turn, as if every eye in the house wasn’t on him already. ‘It Could Have Been Me’ is the last song. Some bands are just super exciting live and The Struts always push all the buttons for me.
Review & Photos: Dawn Osborne