“We just heard before the show tonight, that all of our shows on this tour are now sold out.” exclaimed Luke Spiller, the humble frontman of Derby, England’s The Struts. And, there’s good reason for this news. There’s been a lot of hype about the band after forming in 2012 and their series of headlining tours throughout the U.K. and Europe, which have included opening for a little band called The Rolling Stones. Not bad, eh? But it’s a lot of hype to live up to while in the States. Touring in support of 2014’s Everybody Wants and their latest EP Have You Heard, the Struts swiftly sold out their show at the Sinclair and justified the aforementioned hype by captivating their audience from start to finish with their anthemic rock and roll.
The house music was cut and a somewhat lengthy, prerecorded spoken word track about the perils of rock and roll decadence (money, sex, drugs, etc… you know the drill) was broadcast over the house PA. Drummer Gethin Davies, bassist Jed Elliott, and guitarist Addo Slack casually descended onto the stage to find their respective marks before their glamtastic frontman Luke Spiller made his entrance, bearing an eloquently stitched frock and a smile that spread from ear to ear.
The band promptly kicked into “Roll Up” which set the machine in high gear before slaying the audience with their current single “Could Have Been Me”. After a few minutes to catch their breath and survey the scene, Spiller began to flirt with the audience. After slinking up to the center of the stage and pulling his mic stand close to his body, he softly and asked, “Boston. Do you wanna kiss this?” A unanimous chorus of cheers rose from the crowd and the band let loose with the funky rocker “Kiss This”.
Davies and Elliot sparked up a subdued jam while waiting to start the next song. An audience member yelled out, “Bass solo!” Spiller spat back, “You want a fucking bass solo?” and then waved his arms and let Elliot steal the spotlight for a few minutes. It was a fun, off the cuff moment that accounted for a solid segue into “She Makes Me Feel”. After wrapping it up, Spiller vanished and the rhythm section broke out into what sounded like an impromptu jam.
However, the jam was more likely planned as it allowed for Spiller’s first wardrobe change of the evening. It also gave guitarist, Addo Slack, his turn to take center stage with a flurry of gestures to fire up the crowd and noodle on his silver axe. Returning to the stage, Spiller donned a curious top – a glorious metallic number with “wings” that glimmered as it picked up the light of all of the venue’s LEDs. He must have had access to the vault of famed wardrobe stylist Zandra Rhodes. Spiller didn’t waste any time unfurling his glorious costume, peeking through his crossed arms – much to the delight of those looking on.
One of the most memorable moments of the night came mid-song during “Let’s Make This Happen Tonight”. The band stopped playing and Spiller asked, “Can I part the Red Sea?” and what followed was one of the most involved call and response rounds with an audience that anyone has probably ever seen. After being asked a second time and being given some direction, the audience members divided themselves into two halves and then sat down on the floor.
Spiller sat down on the lip of the stage and he then hopped onto the floor and started to walk down in between the two groups. And, without a spotlight or microphone, Spiller controlled the crowd like a preacher having his followers yell back in forth in vocal competition. All this, while Elliot and Slack sat perched on Davies’ drum riser, laying in wait for this epic service to conclude.
Spiller’s command of the stage and audience, at such an early stage of his career was most impressive. He and his bandmates continued to impress with two more cuts from Everybody Wants. The band was tight to say the least and their camaraderie on stage was refreshing in a day where most bands’ members can’t stand each other and keep to themselves onstage without batting a lash at each other while phoning it in. The band quickly left the stage waving and smiling leaving the audience wanting more.
The Struts did not disappoint. In a matter of minutes, the band returned and after his second wardrobe change, Spiller pranced across the stage like a possessed peacock riling up the audience before jumping offstage once more and climbing the stairs up to the balcony and back before climbing over the railing and onto the soundboards frame – all while conducting and whipping the masses into a frenzy. A moment later, the band was back together in full and the night’s only encore, “Where Did She Go” gave the attendees one last blast for the night.
With only a limited amount of material to choose from to perform, the Struts squeezed out every opportunity during their eight-song set to entice, enchant and entertain their fans with arena-ready anthems and charisma that channeled the late Freddie Mercury. If there is to be another wave of British music to sweep the nation, The Struts are sure to be the lynch pin in bringing it to us. Catch them if you can. This is a band that you do not want to miss in concert.