“Kid, I don’t know what you call it–talent, charisma, magic–but you got it.” Fans of the Sopranos will know the quote well from when Hesh recounts his meeting with Jimi Hendrix. Well the same statement could be said about The Struts. I’ve been following this band for a couple of years now, and just like a football pundit trying to illustrate the form of a Premiership player at the height of his game, I’m running out of superlatives to describe them.
The most eye catching element of the band is frontman Luke Spiller, whose charisma, confidence, fluid stage presence and wailing rock vocals are simply irresistible, a true star in the making. Yet it has to be said that the three musicians behind him; Jed Elliott (Bass), Gethin Davies (Drums), and Addo Slack (guitar) are just as important a mechanism to the glistening philosophy of The Struts’ raw, rock n roll swagger. It’s their tightness and electrifying band chemistry that makes their performances and live shows such a spectacle.
Having successfully played a variety of dates in France, where they seem to have made a big impact, and two performances in City Square at The Etihad on match days, (much to Spiller’s delight given he is a City fan) they now perform the second of a mini two date tour. The first was the previous night in London, and tonight they’re in Manchester playing to a sell out crowd who know only too well what to expect from an emphatic Struts show.
Spiller appears on stage, glitter perforating around the eyes and sparkles shimmering from his chic jacket, which is soon thrown to the ground to reveal a sparkling red top to match his glitzy demeanour. Immediately his onstage antics get the crowd going as he moves, swaggers and ‘struts’ like a 70s glam rock star. The early highlights are ‘I Just Know’, where the line “You’re out of control, don’t you know it’s only rock n roll” couldn’t be more true to their rocking sound. ‘Kiss This’ is a catchy tune that should’ve been released as a single in February, but unforeseen circumstances have prevented that for the time being. The big, anthemic tunes continue, and Spiller shows no sign of waning as his energy and presence is felt in every song with a series of eye catching stage behaviour that you cannot but help watch in admiration. His confident theatrics reminds me of the stage version of ‘Withnail’, from the cult classic film, ‘Withnail & I’, such is his Shakespearean, thespian like approach.
Never being afraid to tackle a cover song, they dedicate the recent song by Lorde, ‘Royals’, to the engaged crowd. They seem to have a habit of taking a modern song and regenerating it to make it far more appealing as their own, rather than the pop sound it was initially intended for. It’s almost like they’re taking the piss out of the modern scene, saying, this is how it should be done!
‘Could Have Been Me’ is the final song, my single of 2013 and a real fan favourite given its successful release at the back end of last year. The track hit number 8 on the iTunes alternative chart, and the video reached number 1 on the alternative music video chart! The crowd sing along, screaming the lyrics that we can all connect with about living life to have no regrets, and do what you must to achieve a dream. We’re treated to an encore where they end with ‘Rebel Rebel’ by David Bowie, where the middle of the song sees Spiller interact with the audience for about two minutes worth of letting the crowd repeat his “Oooohs”, “Ahhhs”, “Na na na na’s” and, “baby baby baby’s” in a variety of different melodies, which went down a storm that just added to the whole experience of a typical Struts performance.
Given the way the audience react, you get an idea of the impact The Struts have. It’s bubbling into fanaticism for those that know them. They are rock stars in the making and they soak up the attention like it’s the most natural thing in the world. The most important aspect of this is that they smile throughout, and there’s not an ounce of arrogance, cockiness or moody portrayals of a troubled rock star about them. The band previously stated to me the importance of performing onstage with a smile on their face, and that seems to hold true when talking to their fans.
For me, The Struts should be selling out larger venues up and down the country, and it baffles me as to why they’re not. Not knowing the business side of the industry I can’t comment on that, but as a musical talent that can get any crowd going, I’ve not seen anything more engaging in the underground scene….or the modern commercial indie/rock scene for that matter. They are reminiscent of bands such as Queen and Rolling Stones, but they have their own stamp and identity to go with it, and I believe that they are strong contenders to be the ones to potentially reignite and excite the whole commercial rock genre once again.
Further evidence of their talent has been supported by Mike Oldfield, who has recruited Spiller to sing a song on his 25th studio album, ‘Man on the Rocks’. The song, titled, ‘Sailing’, is the first on the album, and the video has been released as a promo exclusively through The Telegraph.
Photos by Matt Johnston