Guess who just got back today? Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
500 people packed into a tiny venue the likes of which The Strokes or should I say some up and coming band called Venison haven’t played since 2001. When a concert ends with sweet literally dripping off the ceiling, with limbs aching and voices lost you know its been a great time. But when that show happens to be the comeback of the band that without any hyperbole changed the face of music when they landed in the UK nine years it wasn’t just a great time, it was like witnessing those kind of gigs people who saw Led Zeppelin in the 70s still talk about today.
For my generation (and the crowd mostly was those in their late 20s) it was our equivalent of watching The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, all those legends that even today are recognised as having changed the musical landscape. I’ve followed the band for 9 years, seen them in various places from Festival fields to medium sized venues but nothing compares to be that close to the action. Nothing compares to watching them play songs after song of pure perfection.
The level of excitement inside Dingwalls reached hysteria, everyone screaming for Venison to come out on stage and when they did I have to say I started to cry. It was like seeing an old friend again, they may have grown older, settled down and mostly cleaned up but boy do they still know how to rock, still know how to generate a buzz that most modern bands would kill for.
There were no new songs but really it wasn’t needed not when they kicked off with New York City Cops then powered through into The Modern Age and Hard to Explain. Yes this band were so confident they started off with 3 of their greatest songs and the night still got better. It’s hard to even say which was the biggest crowd pleaser, everyone was jumping around, there was spontaneous dancing to Someday, moshing to Juicebox, sing-alongs to YOLO. The Strokes are also the only band I’ve seen live that don’t just have the crowd singing along with the lyrics but have everyone humming along with the guitar solos or the drum parts. Personal highlight was Under Control, a song rarely played on their last tour but one that everyone sang along to because its a beautiful beautiful song.
On stage Julian joked with the crowd, asking a fan if he can shake their hands he added ‘Is it clean?’. Nick looked more of a rock god than ever before, losing that hilarious tiger jacket pretty damn quickly due to the heat and playing a vest for the rest of the show. He pulled Rock God Guitarist facial expressions throughout, posing for cameras and generally looking like the love child of one Jimi Page. I couldn’t see a lot of the other members, saw that Albert was smoking during Under Control, tsk he is going to get fined for that but hey who cares he is a member of the god damn Strokes! Nikolai looked his usual quiet self which always makes me feel safe almost, Fab I literally saw his tiny self for two seconds.
People worried about the band and their long hiatus and possible rift over various solo careers put your worries to rest. This is a band still on top of their game in many ways its like they never left us for all those years to begin with. Anyone who saw Julian on his recent solo tour will know how much his voice has improved. The Strokes are not rusty, The Strokes didn’t mess up songs or fail to remember words (even if Julian joked about it just as Last Nite kicked off), The Strokes performed like they never stopped for four years.
Critics have dared to ask if this band are still relevant the answer to that is simple. Yes. Without a doubt yes. Anyone trying to get tickets on Tuesday night know how many times the website crashed, Dingwalls was even trending on Twitter in the UK. A band that haven’t released new material in nearly 5 years still managed to make fans beg for tickets outside the venue. I saw people who were just waiting outside just for the experience even if they couldn’t get in. This is a band that could have sold out Dingwalls 500 times over and still have people needing tickets.
The fact is almost a decade since they came onto the scene, its clearer now than ever that music needs The Strokes. Bands have come and gone, other artists have sold more than The Strokes but in the end we need these five men from NYC because they are the definition of what a rock band has to be. Last weekend the BBC held a contest deciding who the greatest rock band was, and time and time again people on the panel argued that its not just about the music but about the attitude, about the look. Led Zeppelin won that poll and if other is conducted for this century in 20 years time don’t be surprised if The Strokes are there.
As the band left the stage and the lights went up, Thin Lizzy’s Boys Are Back In Town started to play and I couldn’t help but smile because they truly are and may they never leave us again.
A personal thanks again to Richard Priest for getting me a ticket and for the Strokes girls of twitter who whilst I was sleeping on Tuesday night started to bombard Warren Fu, Richard Priest etc with tweets saying I should get a ticket. I never asked anyone to do it, it was not only an incredible gesture, it made me once again realise why I love this band. The fans rock like no others.
‘New York City Cops’ ‘The Modern Age’ ‘Hard To Explain’ ‘Reptilia’ ‘What Ever Happened?’ ‘You Only Live Once’ ‘Soma’ ‘Vision Of Division’ ‘I Can’t Win’ ‘Is This It’ ‘Someday’ ‘Red Light’ ‘Last Nite’
‘Under Control’ ‘12:51’ ‘Juicebox’ ‘Heart In A Cage’ ‘Take It Or Leave It’
(I hope this makes sense I’m working on 5 hours of sleep, also no photos I had lent my parents my camera for their hols and due to the last minute nature couldn’t get another one)