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The Strokes : Live and Barely Legal
The Strokes @Heaven, London 28/06/01

Priya Elangasinghe continues the retrospective, seeing the band as Crud did at the hugely anticipated Heaven gig in London. Here's what James had to say about the whole episode.

The Strokes

The Strokes have moved into a precarious plateau of infamy since their last visit to these shores earlier this year. Since their introduction to us via an NME /Carling show, mythmakers have been busy scurrying about the New York fivesome and giving the band lofty kudos that can only lead to suspicion and sniping about their abilities. Look up and you'll see the vultures are circling hissing the word backlash.

The saddest aspect of the media frenzy is that the band deserve more than just being the latest trendy group. Unlike other Great White Hopes like Gay Dad or Ultrasound, they have made no arrogant proclamations that cannot be delivered upon The Modern Age EP and Hard To Explain are great releases that stand up on their own. Ultimately all the NME covers and the supermodels at your gig are just obstructions to the great music.

However, by the time their headlining London debut was ready to go,it was clear the media shit-shaper has hit fever pitch, tickets were changing hands for 150 and many list celebrities rumoured to be in attendance. As if to add more pressure to a ‘make or break situation ,the band had been forced to cancel previous dates because of an incapacitated drummer (broken arm) and draft in a replacement at the last minute. They arrived on stage to a zealous, anticipating audience opening with a new song Is This It?. It was a curve ball move-the mid tempo song showed a new depth to Jason Casablancas songwriting talent and a move beyond the two minute New Wave pop the band has perfected. The song did not pacify the hungry audience, however, who chucked pints at the group as they segued into a measured version of The Modern Age.

How the media circus had affected the band was unclear But it was obvious that a slight uneasiness pervaded the stage. There was less of the joie de vivre that was showcased on their first UK visit, Casablancas certainly looked like a man who was seeing his world literally expanding in front of his eyes.

These are the biggest headlining shows we've played he commented as they began Barely Legal (a song which contains a melody line that time will surely be kind to).

Guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond JR have tightened up their playing since their last outing. Valensi in particular showcased a number of mean guitar shapes throughout the performance. The replacement drummers playing detracted somewhat from this achievement. For a band that is so obviously a tight knit gang (gleaned from the common thrift shop attire) it was clear one of the pack was absent. The new percussionist did'nt even dress up for the party, remaining ,as he did, suitless. He did however come with the ability to play. Unfortunately, his talent for technically flawless playing ,only meant he was out of synch with the rest of the band. This resulted in dragging future classics like New York City Cops and the chugging Last Nite down slightly. The previously omnipresent breath of fresh (old) air sadly absent from some of the set.

However, confronted with the strength of the now ;lodged in your brain classics they played tonight and the new songs (especially the excellent Someday ;and the strange, Alone Together this was just a blip in the road .A fully recovered arm permitting, the band will grow from strength to strength and produce a very special forthcoming debut. There was much evidence tonight that they have the goods to outlive the medias transitory interest in them.

The set-list ran:

'Is This It'
'The Modern Age'
'Soma'
'Barely Legal'
'Someday'
'Alone Together'
'Last Nite'
'Hard To Explain'
'NYC Cops'
'Trying Your Luck'
'Take It Or Leave It'

Report by: Priya Elangasinghe

Relevant URLs:
thestrokes.org
thestrokes.com
Strokes discussuion forum