The Struts

w/ Mac Saturn and Hot For Crime

Ventura Music Hall – Ventura, CA

Wednesday, December 5th, 2023

Review/Pics: Will

Well, this turned out to be a night full of revelations. First off the venue.  This was the first time I’d seen a show at the Ventura Music Hall.  When I pulled up it looked like any old unassuming, large building that you’d pass by daily without a blink.  Nothing flashy, no marquee.  The place used to be a bowling alley and inside looks like a small airplane hanger with a high wood ceiling. The stage is relatively small when you compare it with neighboring venues like the Majestic Ventura Theater. I was worried about how the bands would sound, but to my amazement, it really wasn’t bad at all.  You could hear every instrument and nothing was distorted or got lost in the space. I’ll get to more of my revelations in a bit.

First up were Hot For Crime. A local LA band that were afforded all the luxuries a 3rd on the bill band would expect: Not much. The Struts set up only allowed for a pretty small area at the front.  They threw out a sign with their name on it in front of the drum kit that they borrowed from the other support band, Mac Saturn.

The lights were minimal and the smoke plentiful but even so, Mick Dorn, vocals; Chris Cash, guitar; Danny Thompson, drums; Miles Schon, guitar and Paul O’Malley, bass, put on a good old rock & roll show with some pretty decent tunes.  Would like to check them out again in a better setting.


The second revelation of the night came in the form of Mac Saturn.  Ever catch an opening band and just know they’re gonna be big? Hailing from Detroit MI, Mac Saturn grabbed me right away as the first funkified chords of opening song “Diamonds” rang out through the hall. This band rocked, funk’d and grooved through their 8 song set.  They wreaked of the type of 70’s funk that you’d have heard in Starsky & Hutch as Huggy Bear strutted into a local dive bar.  And I mean that as a huge compliment.

(If you’re too young for that reference, then you need to check out some classic 70’s movies like Shaft or Superfly to catch my drift. You dig?!).

The band are front man Carson Macc, drummer Angelo Coppola, guitarists Mike Moody and Nick Barone, bassist Jive Moses and pianist Evan Mercer and they not only sound, but look the part too. I bought a t-shirt and already have their first full album (Coming in Jan) on pre-order.  If you’re heading out to see any upcoming Struts shows, do yourself a favor and get there early.  And then send me all your thanks in small, or large unmarked bills. 


My final revelation of the evening came in the form of The Struts themselves.  This was the 4th time I’d caught the band live and they are better than ever.  In previous reviews I couldn’t help but compare Luke’s stage presence to “Freddie” or “Mick”, but now, I just see “Luke” and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways.  Sure, the ghost of legends past will always be close by (Their backdrop wall of lights is still reminiscent of the “Queen Live Killers” tour), but I feel like there’s been a real growth in the band and their comfort in being themselves.  On that same note, it was noticeable (not just by me) that Adam was way more mobile and allowed his personality to shine through.  Heck, there were even some Angus Young type “struts” across the stage at times.

It’s hard not to get caught up in Luke’s energy on stage.  He’s constantly interacting with the crowd and from the front rail to the back of the venue he had everyone dancing and singing along all night. And of note, he’s also looking pretty buffed out compared to the last time I saw them.  Jed, as always, is very workmanlike on the bass as he and Gethin (with the Welsh Dragon adorning his kit), provide the solid, backbone and pocket of The Struts catalog.

Performance is one thing, but you’ve got to have the songs and The Struts, with their great new album, “Pretty Vicious“, have made sure that their shows are packed from start to finish with amazing tunes.  So much so that some old favorites had to make way for new, soon to be, classics. 

It all started off very familiar with openers “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Body Talks“, but then we got their stand alone single, “Fallin’ With Me” and the first taste of “PV” material live with “Too Good at Raising Hell” and (after “Kiss This“), “Rockstar“.  You could tell from the crowd reaction that not only had most of them heard the new release, but they also wildly approve of it.  From the opening chords of the night, Luke and everyone in the hall were bouncing.  It took about a song and a half for him to be drenched in sweat.

It was halfway through the set that Luke finally sat down at his white piano (with his mini “Freddie” funko at the side) to slow it down for “One Night Only“. After which, just Adam and Luke took to the stage for a single guitar, mostly crowd sung version of “Mary Go Round“.  After “Primadonna Like Me“, Adam stayed alone on stage for a (relatively uninspired) guitar solo that led into the killer “Wild Child” from their pandemic album release, “Strange Days“.

2 new tracks followed as we were treated to a “new Struts classic” with the title track “Pretty Vicious” and “I Won’t Run” which are sure to be set staples for the rest of their existence.  There was the usual “this side against that side” crowd participation (Can we get rid of that and just have left side of the crowd fight the right side to see who’s “better”?!)  For those “Strutters” in the know, for closer “Could Have Been Me“, Luke invoked his usual crowd participation where he had everyone get on the ground and at his command, have everyone jump up and dance.  As the band made their bows, the sweaty crowd left to the familiar ending refrain of the theme tune to the classic, British sit-com, “Only Fools and Horses”.

*Thanks Joe!

On a personal note, I’m Thankful that The Struts keep adding Ventura to their tour stops prior to their LA shows (as I’m sure it is calculated to allow them an extra night in their own beds as they all live locally).

In an evening that is a few hours of pure escapism, The Struts in concert are a worthy cure for all the world’s noise.


Related Links:

The Struts


Mac Saturn


Hot For Crime