The Struts | 10.29.15

live struts_smIt’s good to see someone that thinks that more is more, putting on a real show is required, and having massive hits is cool again.

live struts

Blueberry Hill Duck Room, St. Louis

A sold-out crowd of enthusiastic fans witnessed the new heirs to the U.K. arena rock crown at the Duck Room Thursday night. Dover, England’s smash sensations the Struts delivered a show that was full of bombast, volume, pageantry, stage banter, and the fun of an old-time stadium rock show.

Unlike Steel Panther or the Darkness, the Struts are not merely trying to copy the masters—Queen, the Sweet, the Faces, or the Rolling Stones—but infusing their modern music with the legacy of ’70s rock while doing their own thing. Frontman, lead vocalist, and dandy dresser Luke Spiller has moves like Jagger and the vocal delivery of Freddie Mercury. It’s obvious that he’s studied the masters and copped a move or two. Then again, so did Jagger, Tyler, and Mercury. Spiller even made three costume changes.

The British quartet kicked off their set with the raucous tune “Roll Up,” then segued right into their smash hit and anthem, “Could Have Been Me.” The audience knew every word to this single which is receiving frequent airplay on 105.7 FM. This song features more hooks than the Norwegian fishing fleet and a singalong chorus that makes even the most jaded hipster shout at the top of his lungs and get up and dance. Several sections of this song reminded me of the best parts of anthems from Queen and Slade.

Toward the end of their energetic, tight, eight-song set, Spiller jumped into the audience to lead a sing-along. This is a singer who recognizes that simply standing in place, wearing ordinary duds, and ignoring the audience is not the winning recipe for world domination. Spiller was like a maestro directing various sections of the Duck Room in singing, acting as if he were playing to 300,000, not 300. It’s good to see someone that thinks that more is more, putting on a real show is required, and having massive hits is cool again. Ambition and excess were attractive in the capable hand of these British rockers.

Guitarist Adam Slack weaved and played to Spiller’s antics and grand gestures. Bassist Jed Elliott contributed solid backing vocals and meaty bass lines, anchoring the night along with drummer Gethin Davies. Other songs such as the sweaty “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Kiss This” benefited from the tight playing and grit of the Struts’ musicians; they served the song. Even when Slack took a solo, it was tasteful and never indulgent or obligatory.

Openers, New Jersey’s the Karma Killers, played a tight set of alternative pop songs from their EP Strange Therapy. Their carefully crafted tunes struck a responsive chord with the ladies. Guitarist and vocalist Micky James was an animated stage stalker. Whether hanging from the rafters or jumping up in down, he’s a man who puts his back into his living. The band’s music and image fit in well with many of the new crop of alternative pop bands.

Both of these young bands proved that there’s still an audience for good-time, sweaty music for the masses. If you missed the Struts, don’t despair; rumor has it they’ll be back in December. One thing is for sure, though: Small clubs will be in their rearview mirror very soon. | Doug Tull


Set list:

Roll Up
Could Have Been Me
Kiss This
She Make Me Feel Like
Let’s Make This Happen Tonight
Dirty, Sexy Money
Put Your Money on Me
Where Did She Go (encore)

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