Like a pressure cooker, the buzz about The Struts has been building exponentially over the past couple of years and there’s good reason for it. After releasing their latest hook-filled full-length album Everybody Wants, relentlessly traveling the globe supporting bands like Motley Crue, joining festivals such as Lollapalooza or headlining their own tours across the U.K. and America, the word is getting out and reaching new fans of all ages as was quite evident in Boston this past week.
Though not quite sold out, the Royale Nightclub on August 2nd was seemingly packed to the gills with teens, tweens and adults alike. Many of them appeared quite eager to get as close to the stage as possible to watch and listen to Luke Spiller (lead vocals & acoustic guitar), Adam Slack (guitar & vocals), Jed Elliott (bass guitar & vocals), and Gethin Davies (drums) churn out their unique brand of glam-infused rock and roll.
The Royale’s house music faded, as did the lights and the rhythm section, bathed in a red light, snuck out from the shadows and took their marks moments before their sensational lead singer, Luke Spiller, catapulted himself out to center stage – much to the thrill of the audience. Spiller, dressed in a bedazzled gold-fringed captain’s jacket and shiny vinyl pants with matching fringe at his ankles, just above his pointed-toe cowboy boots pranced from side to side of the stage riling up the crowd. Slack, was laid back behind his six-string and microphone, draped in a large scarf below his flowing blonde curls, as he churned out one power chord after another. Elliot bounced around his side of the stage with vigor that rivaled Spiller’s enthusiasm and Davies’ romp and roll behind his kit.
From this point, jamming through “I Just Know” and cruising seamlessly into the arena-ready “Roll Up”, it was game on. There wasn’t a lot of time to talk, just time to rock. Which, is quite a change from the last stop that the Struts made in Boston, when their catalog was a bit limited. There were plenty of highlights through the set, including the anthemic “Could Have Been Me”, the swingin’ “Switcheroo” (listen to the lyrics) and the addictive “Kiss This”.
Luke and company brought the energy, but not the drama, down just a bit with the wrenching “Mary Go Round” before kicking ass and turning the crowd on with the disco-influenced rocker that is “Dirty Sexy Money”. “Lets Make This Happen” followed with a healthy dose of crowd participation. Mid-song, Spiller addressed the crowd with the classic “which side is louder?” call & response session. Though a bit cliché, it’s classic shtick that Spiller understands will always work. After a few rounds of stage right and stage left trying to out do each other, Spiller brought the games to an end and said, “Calm down. If you really want to show me what you’ve got, when I say jump… jump 1, 2, 3, JUMP!” The mob on the general admission dance floor exploded into what looked like hundreds bottles of champagne popping their corks in unison.
After the band and audience took a few deep breaths, Slack started noodlin’ on a bluesy, Hendrix-styled riff while Spiller endeared himself to the crowd with, “On behalf of the band. We love each and every one of you. Thank you. This song is called “Young Stars”. The crowd ate it up, waving their arms and cell phones aloft while closing their eyes and singing along to the ever-so whimsical chorus.
The band brought it down enough for Spiller to address the audience once again. Taking cues from an obvious influence, Freddie Mercury’s knack for engaging his audience, Spiller sang, “I bet your body’s so sweet” by himself. The audience didn’t miss a beat to sing the next line with the enthusiastic “Oh, yeah!” After a few rounds, Spiller replied with, “Okay Boston. You’re bloody good. Don’t get cocky. You still gotta prove it to me. Put your arms up in the air!” And then he continued the back and forth with the rest of the song’s chorus before breaking to add. “Are you ready Boston? This is a mover and a groover. I wanna see you dance. I want to see you sing. Let’s have a good time!”, before charging into their latest single, “Put Your Money On Me”. The band then slayed the audience with this upbeat rocker. As Spiller garners most of the attention and the spotlight on stage, it was nice to see the whole band gather around the drum riser and dance together as one for a few short moments. Spiller then shimmied back to center stage with a Steven Tyler-esque jerks and shakes before exclaiming, “Best audience yet!” before leaving the stage with the rest of the band.
The audience began chanting, “Struts! Struts! Struts!” in hopes of an encore. Their wishes were met with the sight of a roadie bringing out a single stool and to the center of the stage. Much to the audience’s delight, Slack emerged and sauntered back out, picked up his guitar and messed around with another bluesy riff before stepping up to Spiller’s mic. “You know, the last time we came through here, we were a little bit too giddy. Thanks very much for having us.” Spiller soon followed and took a seat before adding, “Boston, you’re beautiful. Thanks for coming. Slack and Spiller then offered up their tragic tale, “Black Swan”.
For the finale, Spiller once again reigned supreme over the Royale and brought his fans to their knees, literally. Like a king, he demanded his loyal following to get down on the floor and follow his every order. He had them part like the Red Sea, raise their hands in the air, yell, sing and when he told them to rise, they catered to his every whim and brought the show to a head with the ferocity of a hurricane as the band and their fans sang in chorus throughout the rowdy “Where Did She Go.” Spiller and the rest of the band left the stage with a simple, but sincere, “Thank you!” All that was missing, was the all too hip “mic drop”.