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
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
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'
'Hard To Explain'
'Trying Your Luck'
'Take It Or Leave It'
Report by: Priya Elangasinghe