Let’s start with how much I despise the human race.
No, let’s start with how The Strokes were once the biggest and best band in the world but how that could never last.
Or maybe how the invention of the smart phone is the worst idea in human history.
It was quite the surprise when the New York chaps decided they wanted to play a little gig in London to complement the Berlin, Paris and Belfast nights that they had previously announced. The Roundhouse was a good choice. Cue the hordes banging on about how the tickets sold out within half a millisecond. Well seventeen hundred punters managed it and proceeded to lose their collective shit as the opening strains of ‘Someday’ rang out.
Whether or not you’re a grumpy old git like me but there seemed to be too many of those that wanted to dispense with their mental capabilities to “Last Nite’, chuck their beer over the next few rows and then barge about those people trying to enjoy it from a safe distance. You are then greeted be a sea of camera phone screens, giving you a tiny, shit view of the stage ad infinitum, everyone seemingly happy to have spent at least seventy quid to watch something the way they would on their sofa at home.
Now, there is a lot to be said for pretending to be 16 again and screaming your heads off with your arm around your best mates, but there is no fine line here, you dance and sing and enjoy yourself without impeding others, but this is the world we live in and some of us are after another plain, another level if you will, to enjoy the mercurial New Yorkers. Maybe that’s the balcony. Lesson learnt.
Julian appeared to be a little inebriated, and was prone to rambling incoherently and besides a light-hearted moment when he passed the microphone to Nikolai to address the crowd, they were as motionless and expressionless as always. But my God they are the coolest motherfuckers that ever stepped on a stage.
So little has changed in the best part of 20 years, Albert’s tight mop of curls, Nick’s almost effeminate do, Fab’s afro and Nik’s floppy curtains, everyone in leather jackets and basketball boots. Then there’s Julian Casablancas, in what appeared to be a tan leather trench coat and big thick sunglasses effortlessly pulling off fifty shades of ice.
Except maybe the sands of time are catching up as the creaking limbs don’t do what they used to, illustrated when Nikolai went for a climb up the PA speaker cabinets and ended up resembling your Gran trying to get off a deck chair on the beach, reversing, ending up on their knees and having difficulty getting on their feet. A little awkward for all concerned.
An accusation that has been levelled at the band over recent years is that their hearts don’t seem to be quite as deeply ensconced in the day job as it once was. Live, they’ve been labelled as less than interested on occasion which their laconic attitude to life attests and excuses, and yet the level they play at now doesn’t usually allow for these kinds of evenings. Outdoor park shows, arenas, festivals, this is where you expect to see them, but is that their natural habitat?
They sharpened their teeth playing at dive bars in the East Village and when they struck gold with Is This It it was only the Bowery or Radio City Music Hall that held them. They prefer the dark, the sweat boxes and the whites of the front row’s eyes.
This was anything but lifeless, the energy coming off the stage infected everyone and the new songs ‘Bad Decisions’ and ‘The Adults Are Talking’ debuted, coupled with first single ‘At The Door’ that unfortunately didn’t make an appearance, suggests there’s life in the old dog yet. Give it a stroke.