A Updated
TheStruts2 2022
The Struts1 2022
TheStruts3 2022

Tonight was phenomenal and the world has definitely not heard the last of The Struts.

London: Shepherd’s Bush Empire – 14 July 2022

There was apparently a buzz about Cardinal Black being the next big thing a couple of years ago. However, in some ways they were a surprising support. The vocals are like traditional soulful R&B, with jangly-toned Rock guitar, but in truth they are probably more Indie than Rock as a result, with roots in music older than Rock and Metal. There’s a bit of Gospel in the vocals too at times: the lounge piano even brings a bit of Sade into the mix. In truth they did not have enough bite for me.

However, I felt delightfully and positively ravaged by The Struts and although they have flirted with dance music in the past, tonight was very much a Glam Rock show, exactly up my street. Luke Spiller is that quintessential Rock Star, incandescent and someone from whom nobody can avert their gaze. He brings all kinds of influences into his stage persona old school Cabaret, musicals (think ‘Billy Elliot’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’) in very much the same way Freddie Mercury brought diverse influences to Queen. The result is epic Rock with oodles of shine, endless energy, sex appeal and X-Factor. In many ways The Struts show is all about Spiller. He did his best to point to and introduce his band mates all through the show, but to no avail, everyone was still staring at him.

About half the tracks tonight were from the classic ‘Everybody Wants’, a few tracks from the newest album ‘Strange Days’, the rest was a medley of older tracks and ‘Young And Dangerous’, and they played one completely new track they say they have never played before. One thing I can tell you is that there were no instrument solos and no dips in energy from start to finish. It was one long energy high for band and crowd.

They kicked off with ‘Primadonna Like Me’ and ‘Body Talks’. We were barely into the set and the crowd were singing with ‘Kiss This’. The crowd was full of men as well as women and everybody is lapping up the sexy dancing. Spiller looks like he is born to wear iridescent eye shadow and pearls and the result is delicious androgyny, paradoxically utterly contrived, while looking so much a part of his nature it goes without question. Once we were into ‘Fire (Part 1)’ the crowd was enthusiastically clapping of their own volition. Mid way though Spiller took to the piano, finishing the track with two theatrical high notes on the piano adding a sense of further drama. In ‘One Night Only’ he did huge sweeps right down the piano á la the most Rock ‘n’ Roll moments of ‘The Rocky Horror Show’.

Asking the crowd if the were feeling sexy and wanted to dance, up came ‘Dirty Sexy Money’. Spiller has an amazing rapport with a crowd, so even the most reserved London audience forgets their inhibitions, almost as if they had decided they would go all the way before even arriving. The brand new track was a Glam Rock anthem called ‘Are You Falling With Me’ and amazingly for completely new material there was no dip in energy or enthusiasm. The track mines traditional Glam Rock so successfully there’s a sense of familiarity and home without a sense of déjà vu.

Intimately sharing with the crowd about falling in love and breaking up, Spiller introduced ‘Low Key In Love’ as the great song that came out of his otherwise unfortunate experience. For ‘Mary Go Round’ they had the lights turned off and asked the crowd to light up the auditorium, which they obliged with a thousand cell phones like little glow worms across the venue. ‘Put Your Money On Me’ had everyone singing “Oh Yeah”. Despite the British heat wave and an outfit of purple satin and PVC, Spiller was high kicking in his white Cuban heels like he just doesn’t care, dizzying to watch. A medley of older tracks was dedicated to the familiar faces that have been following the band for a long time.

To be honest, I often think covers in a set by an artist with banging originals is a waste of time, but the cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ was an absolute highlight for me: what a song, and what a version, I was transfixed. It really showed off Spiller’s voice and the whole audience was under his spell. As he sings “I don’t want to fall in love with you” I think the whole crowd were thinking, “go on, why not, pick me!!”

At the end of ‘Wild Child’ the band stood still like mannequins and made the crowd wait, as if the video had been paused. The audience was split for a left-right competition of volume. Such things can be a bit sad, but in love with Spiller the crowd screamed themselves silly, easily the loudest singing competition I have ever heard and I have been attending gigs for more years than I care to say. “It’s bordering on Beatle-mania” I thought to myself.

The call back for the encore was also immediate and very loud. Spiller took a seat at the piano and thanked the venue staff, crew and the crowd before starting ‘Strange Days’, initially on stage on his own, but joined later by the rest of the band. The final encore track was ‘It Could Have Been Me’ during which the crowd were positively throwing their hands forward in a point in unison, in sync, so passionately it reminded me of a Nuremberg Rally: indeed fan passion is a little dangerous when all inhibitions are lost.

The band did a bow and threw mementos like set lists into the audience. Sufficiently confident that someone would want it, Spiller ran a towel over his hair and in humour over his chest and crotch, before throwing it into the crowd. I haven’t seen devotion like this from the whole audience, as opposed to just the first few rows, for a while. Spiller’s seduction of the crowd was complete. Tonight was phenomenal and the world has definitely not heard the last of The Struts.

Dawn Osborne

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