The Struts came to London’s O2 Forum Kentish Town on a hot Saturday night. As the band announce their upcoming album, Pretty Vicious, mere days before the event, it is nothing short of an eager-paced bunch heading into the venue as the anticipation of the night draws in.
The Struts – Bad Nerves
O2 Forum Kentish Town – 12 August 2023
Words: Monty Sewell
Photography: Eric Duvet
Dirty Sexy Money. The Struts open their one of countless headlining tours with a track that is nothing short of declarative of the entire night. Following up with Body Talks, Too Good At Raising Hell, and Fallin’ With Me, it is not as much titles of songs as it is an entire all-encompassing night disposition.
Luke Spiller is the unforgettably sensational frontman everyone wants but no one deserves as he twirls and rages around the stage, the love child of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury.
I take my hat off to their sound engineer for a live four-piece, with the entire set bounding out from the stage like an eight-man band. Huge sounds with – what I can confidently confirm – not a backing track in sight. Kiss This and personal favourite Primadonna Like Me drape Spiller in all his tongue-to-the-teeth stage presence, teasing us with every flick of the wrist and fan out of the arms.
Contrary to their studio recordings, we get much more ‘rock’ in The Struts’ live shows, giving guitarist Adam Slack an entire ocean of opportunity to flaunt his skillset. With his true-to-the-cause rock ‘n’ roll barnet and suave stage persona, Slack fills his given instrumental gaps with a string-bending, finger-picking compulsion that drives the audience into a frenzy of applause.
Jumping into The Struts road trip, hands in the air backseat is All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go) before In Love With A Camera and One Night Only. The rhythm section then takes a well-deserved breather as we get a stripped-back rendition of Mary Go Round from the acclaimed 2016 album Everybody Wants.
Low Key In Love (originally sung with Paris Jackson, interestingly enough) and the Lorde cover, Royals, spin the show’s second half with some superbly sunny weather yarn. Slack gets center stage for an all-out guitar solo, adding more depth to the setlist, which is the crowd dipping in and out, up and down with their performers. The guitarist also adds some phenomenal soprano backing vocals, initially prompting disbelief before general awe.
Joining Slack on BV’s is bassist Jed Elliot. The man is unstoppable in his onstage antics, cavorting across the stage whilst constantly coming up close to the edge of the audience and offering his praise with a clap of the hands and a slap of the bass. Wild Child, Pretty Vicious, and I Do It So Well are ferociously pop rock with drummer Gethin Davies leading the quartet’s beat drive with high hat style.
Where Did She Go, Put Your Money on Me, an acoustic version of Fire, and Could Have Been Me, finish up the show on a Saturday night not soon to be forgotten. Whilst the essence of The Struts seems as though it comes down to Spiller’s insatiable performance chops, as the band crosses their decade marker, it’s clear their defining trait is the elevating feeling their music brings.
Nothing but love was exuding from their audience, who cheered to the point of exhaustion and danced to the edge of a frenzy.
Supporting tonight’s gig is Bad Nerves. The powerpop rock ‘n’ rollers are impeccably London, with fast, dirty riffs and gloriously anthemic chorus. The guys released their debut in 2020 with top tracks Can’t Be Mine and Baby Drummer playing out with such energy at The O2 Forum that it is hard not to become wholly engorged in their set.
Frontman Bobby Nerves takes us on a rollercoaster ride of high energy, rock blast-outs with his sharp-edged showmanship and stylish attitude reminiscent of the Britpop movement. Brilliant songs, fearless execution. The industry better be ready.