The Struts with The Wrecks and Thunderpussy – House of Blues, Anaheim, CA 11/3/18
Another British Invasion is upon us…And what a welcome invasion it is. The Struts brought their abundance of flair and panache to the House Of Blues, Anaheim on Saturday night and rocked the roof (and the floor) off of the place.
I’ve heard a lot of hype about this band from friends and people like Eddie Trunk talking about how The Struts are one of the bands out now (others being Greta Van Fleet and Rival Sons) who are making a push at keeping rock in the spotlight with some new, exciting music.
Well now… Let’s see what all the fuss is about…
The answer is, The Struts are the real fucking deal. This was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. The energy in the packed HOB was amazing. It’s how I remember concerts being before I moved to the usually jaded and laid back LA concert scene. Their new album, Young and Dangerous, was just released in the US on Oct 26th and the majority of the crowd already knew the words to almost every song.
I’ve heard the comparisons of the band to Queen, which at least musically are a bit overstated. This band is equal measure Rock, Pop and Disco. Sure there are tinges of a Queen influence scattered through their sound which stand out due to Luke’s vocals, but I’d say they’re more of a mix of the likes of The Stones, T-Rex and even The Darkness, to name a few.
But similar to Queen, on stage it’s clear the energy of The Struts flows through lead singer, Luke Spiller. It’s hard to take your eyes off the man. He’s flamboyant, funny, engaging, his costumes are “Freddie”- esque and he can outright sing the shit out of their songs. It’s obvious Freddie was a huge influence on Luke, from vocal quirks to certain mannerisms, but he has carved out his own style as a frontman on stage that you don’t see in a lot of bands these days. He commanded the audience from the moment the band hit the stage and had them clapping, singing, dancing and jumping (enough to create waves on the floor) from the very first notes of their set.
With 2 full albums to their name, The Struts offered a healthy dose of both the old and the new. A 16 song set that saw half of it devoted to tracks from newest release, Young and Dangerous, 6 from their debut, Everybody Wants, The song “One Night Only” that was meant to be included on Y&D but ended up as a stand-alone single, and a rocking cover of Springsteen’s, “Dancing In The Dark“, complete with a very young, hand-picked from the crowd by Luke, Courtney Cox stand-in, who may have a future on the stage herself. As I mentioned, the new songs seemed like old favorites to the crowd which was comprised of young and old and everything in between. Age didn’t matter, everyone was singing and grooving to the music.
The show kicked off with new song, “Primadonna Like Me” which if you haven’t seen the band yet, is the perfect introduction for Luke who was adorned in a half black/half white, tassled outfit. Their catalog is chock full of catchy, sing-along songs and that’s just what the crowd did. Through, “Kiss This“, “I’m In Love With A Camera“, “Dirty Sexy Money” and for “One Night Only” which saw Luke take his place behind the piano for the first time. The band also jammed through a groove-laden instrumental which allowed them their collective moments to shine which culminated in Luke re-joining them to provide a guitar vs harmonica “duel”.
In an evening filled with highlights a few standout moments included Adam and Luke’s guitar-only version of “Mary Go Round“, Luke on the Piano singing the soon to be massive hit, “Somebody New“, a shout out to the haters with “Bulletproof Baby” and a great crowd sing-along to set closer, “Could Have Been Me“.
Although the focus of the show (and rightly so) is on frontman Luke Spiller, the rest of the band create a massive sound which (literally) amplifies how great these songs are. Bassist, Jed Elliot brings a driving bass groove to every track, drummer, Gethin Davies, bashes the hell out of the kit which is adorned on the right side by a Welsh Flag, and guitarist, Adam Slack jams out catchy Strut riff after riff while they all combine in bringing the songs to life with their amazing vocal harmonies.
I really liked the band just based on their albums, and I now LOVE the band as a complete entity. Their live performance is where it’s at and I look forward to following them to the arenas and stadiums where they are destined to be carrying the banner of rock for decades to come.
A nice touch after the show had ended was the “exit” music. It was the intro and outro songs to the long running, classic British sitcom, Only Fools and Horses which was a nice way for the 4 Brits to say “cheerio” to their fans.
Direct Support on this tour has come from a Thousand Oaks/LA band called The Wrecks. It was hard to get a taste of what the band fully sound like because their van broke down the previous day and none of their equipment made it to Anaheim. But did that stop The Wrecks?! Hell No! They truly turned lemons into lemonade by setting up a small living room on stage, complete with couch and lamp and “bar” where drummer Westen Weiss and keyboardist, Billy Nally set up shop with a few lucky fans who got to come on stage and join them for libations and a few funny smelling cigarettes.
That left the heavy lifting to vocalist Nick Anderson, guitarist, Nick Schmidt and bassist, Aaron Kelley who strapped on acoustic guitars and ran through a quick selection of their songs that included, “James Dean“, “Panic Vertigo“, “Way With Words” and “Favorite Liar” as well as a cool acoustic (of course) version of The Killers’ hit, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl“. It’s clear the band are heavily influenced by acts such as Weezer and The Pixies.
A lot of the crowd were very familiar with the band and sang along with them. I really like what I heard and look forward to hearing them as a full, plugged in band. This chance may come sooner, rather than later as they’re on tour right now and will be hitting the Troubador in Los Angeles on December 15th. Well worth a listen, check out their info/dates in the link below.
Thunderpussy, a 4-piece band from Seattle opened the show with an entertaining set of some cool throwback-to-the-70’s sounding rock songs. The band consists of singer (and obviously someone with a background in dance), Molly Sides, guitarist, Whitney Petty, bassist, Leah Julius and drummer, Ruby Dunphy. The ladies did a great job of holding the crowd’s interest and making them pay attention. They sounded good and were very entertaining during their quick, 30 minute set.
Thunderpussy are signed to Mike McCready’s (Pearl Jam) Riverdog label and have an EP, “Greatest Tits” as well as their self-titled debut album that was released earlier this year. Certainly a band that would warrant a second look and listen in the future.