The Struts’ particular brand of modernised glam rock has never fared particularly well on this side of the Atlantic, which meant it came as no surprise when they relocated to Los Angeles. They’ve spent the last couple of years focusing on their expansion in the United States with only a couple of European shows here and there. They hit the ground running, and now Americans are quite frankly obsessed with the foursome.
When they returned to the UK last year for a handful of dates, things were noticeably different. Press outlets that before wouldn’t give them the time of day were eager to promote The Struts however they could, and fans scrambled to get tickets for the tiny shows that ultimately ended up selling out. For this year’s compulsory visit to their original digs, the band announced a single London show at The Garage in Islington but it wasn’t very long before the overwhelming demand necessitated an upgrade to Camden’s famed Electric Ballroom.
The Struts’ crowds are unusual in that they’re a mixture of 50-year-old dads appreciating their paying homage to the bands of yesteryear and teenage girls who are consumed by their favourite band in the same way another girl would be with, say, One Direction. The two manage to co-exist in harmony no matter how much the odds are against them, and on the evening of the show the buzz of excitement was traceable back to both distinct groups.
As the band made their entrance, the crowd were transfixed. They are not musicians who do anything by half; they’re theatrical, seeking to grab your attention and hold it there. Lead singer Luke Spiller is a man from another time, drawing influence from all the greats such as Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, and backed by a band who are so unbelievably talented that you begin to wonder why exactly the British public was so forbidding at first.
In 2014, The Struts released their debut album Everybody Wants, and last year saw them re-release it in the United States with a few adjustments. Most of the setlist was drawn from this record as expected, with the addition of latest single ‘One Night Only‘ (that Spiller maintains is an extension from the album rather that a standalone piece or the start of something new) and also a couple of other new tracks. ‘Primadonna‘, was one, and had been tried out before in America but was the band’s first time playing it in the UK. Another, ‘Who Am I?‘, was making its live debut. As much as America has given these guys all the love, it only made sense for them to try out a new song in front of an audience who had once been so supercilious. Luckily, it went down a treat.
The most popular offerings were the band’s biggest singles, ‘Kiss This‘, ‘Could’ve Been Me‘ and ‘Put Your Money On Me‘, but it was a bizarre but brilliant cover of Oasis‘ ‘Supersonic‘ that had the crowd truly transfixed. The Struts have always listed the 90’s Brit-poppers as an influence but haven’t really had material to reflect that, so you wouldn’t be criticized for thinking they wouldn’t be able to pull of such a tricky cover. On the contrary, they performed with such ease, putting their own spin on the classic track but not to the point where they were warping it to be unrecognisable.
As they closed out with ‘Where Did She Go‘, a sing-along hit, The Struts then stood before their audience and took a grinning bow. They’ve grafted to get to this position, there’s no denying that, and while they’re at a comfortable level of fame in the U.S. it’s clear that they won’t rest until they’re world renowned.