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Gig Review

The Strypes
Brighton, Concorde 2

Article written by Various Writers - Feb 24, 2014

The Strypes
Watching The Strypes’ Glastonbury set last summer, albeit through the sanitised filter of a TV screen, left me disappointedly unmoved. Disappointed because I so wanted to love this band. I mean, what’s not to like? Paying homage to every great R'n'B band from the Yardbirds to Dr Feelgood, this should be every ex-Mod’s dream. But the presence of so many covers and of course their obvious youth, lent the performance a certain ersatz quality. And so it was with some trepidation that I approached this evening.

However, I was instantly reassured to see that more than 50% of the sell-out crowd were slightly over-weight, balding men who had long since waved goodbye to their thirties, but squashed into their Sta-prest, crew neck sweaters and Harrington’s. Long forgotten objects of sartorial desire dusted down in honour of this raucous band of teenagers. And the soundtrack for this undeniable vanity was equally impressive; Otis Redding, Van Morrison, Dolly Parton’s Jolene. Stand-out track Thin Lizzy’s Running Back the melancholy highlight. The band weren’t even on and things were looking up.

And as the Strypes crashed through the opening number, inevitably a cover - The Happy Mondays Step On – it was evident that they are undoubtedly a band to experience live. They play with a cocksure swagger, partly due to the infectious arrogance of youth. But it would be no exaggeration to say that bearing witness to the loping authority of lead singer Ross Farrelly and the well-organised, full of hatred and focused zeal of the band was reminiscent of some of this country’s finest rock and roll bands. I wasn’t sure if they were working up their aggression or working it off, but either way they play a captivating, frenetic, value-for-money 90 minutes. And every track on debut album ‘Snapshot’ (yep, we heard the lot) was enhanced by the invigorating standing in-a-small-room-full-of-sweaty-mainly-blokes experience. Even Leiber and Stoller’s ‘I’m A Hog for You Baby’, a right old dogs-dinner dirge on the album, sounded great tonight.

None of the cover versions we heard could be considered clever or obscure, or had anybody raising a knowing eyebrow as they paid homage to an obscure 30’s delta bluesman. Things were kept simple - Rockaway Beach (Ramones), Concrete Jungle (Specials), Louie Louie (Kingsmen) - and that’s to be applauded. With the possible exception of I’m The Face (the High Numbers) that may have been added to the set as a nod to Brighton’s mod heritage, all the covers blended seamlessly with the rest of the set and were played because they just sounded great.

Perhaps the only stain on the night was the tiresome appearance of too many women on the shoulders of their boyfriends, made worse during ‘Angel Eyes’ when a couple of buffoons in the audience failed to grasp the piss-taking nature of lead singer Ross Farrelly’s request for the crowd to “wave your lighters in the air”. This scandalous behaviour may have been a legacy of recently touring Europe's largest stadiums with the Arctic Monkeys, but thankfully guitarists Josh McClorey’s repeated calls to ‘clap your hands Brighton’ were met with the stern indifference such stadium posturing deserved. Yet when an exuberant youth climbed the Concorde’s Victorian ironworks, punching the air in uncontrolled joy at the tour de force he was witnessing, it felt like an altogether different response and the Concorde rose as one in collective appreciation.

And in these two wildly different interpretations of the band lies a tension at the heart of the Strypes future. The fact is their style of music and performance only connects with an audience who can smell the drummer’s sweat, see the spit dripping from the harmonica and see the guitarist’s bleeding fingers. So what is a band to do? Settle for mid table mediocrity and continue to sell out 500-1000 capacity standing venues or aim for the huge arenas, video screens and seated punters...all with their lighters in the air? But such dilemmas are for another day. The biggest compliment I could pay The Strypes after tonight’s tremendous performance, is that leaving the venue nobody was waffling on about their age anymore, just simply saying what a great show they had witnessed. A truly memorable evening.

Alex S and Alan M


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