Labour Day is over. School is back in session. I don’t care what the calendar says, summer is over. And now that summer is gone, we all want to reminisce about all the memories and good times we’ve had. I’ve seen a lot of “what was the best show you saw this summer?” on social media the past few weeks, and you know what? I’m all about re-living my favourite gig, so let me tell you all about it…
Imagine riding a motorcycle onto stage in a fringed leather outfit to a sold out crowd of over 3400 people on a rooftop to a song entitled Primadonna Like Me… but the gig will only get more outrageous from there. Luke Spiller is divinity in human form and The Struts YOUNG&DANGEROUS Tour stop at Pier 17 in New York was THE concert of the summer.
In the weeks leading up to their biggest sell-out show to date, The Struts frontman Luke Spiller was teasing snippets of himself riding motorcycles in his Instagram story; specifically Harley-Davidsons. Upon arriving at the gorgeous venue and taking escalators up to the merchandise booth on the fourth floor, more Harley-Davidson paraphernalia was discovered; a limited run of “The Struts x Harley-Davidson” date-specific shirts and posters. While queuing for the escalator to the rooftop, staff handed out light up bracelets for this special event also branded “The Struts x Harley-Davidson,” which we later found out were set to flash in unison at certain points during the show. To say the crowd was brimming with anticipation was an understatement.
Of course, what would the best concert of the summer be without killer opening acts to get the crowd going? Preceding The Struts were fabulous sets from both BONES UK and The Glorious Sons.
BONES UK consists of badass punk queen guitarists Carmen Vandenberg and Rosie Bones, who also takes lead vocals. A thunderous start to the sure-to-be monumental night. BONES UK brought a positive message of equality and acceptance through song and also a gentle reminder to do no harm, but take no shit. LOVE.
Set highlights: Choke, Girls Can’t Play Guitar
Blusey Canadian rockers The Glorious Sons are always a fun time and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them open for The Struts a handful of times over the last year or so as well as some headlining dates. Their Pier 17 performance was nothing short of stellar and they did a wonderful job engaging with and warming up the crowd up for the main event.
Set highlights: Godless, Graceless and Young, Mama, The Ongoing Speculation Into the Death of Rock and Roll
Before The Struts stormed onto the stage, a video of frontman extraordinaire, Luke Spiller riding a Harley-Davidson Softail along their tour bus and into an elevator emerging onto the rooftop was shown.
The rest of the band ran onto stage playing an intro jam as they do when starting any gig, AND THEN IT HAPPENED. You could hear the thunder. Luke emerged, riding triumphantly onto stage as set opener, Primadonna Like Me started. Luke approached the audience, exclaiming “GET INTO THE NEW YORK GROOVE BABY! COME ON!” The silver Softail nicely accented The Struts blue and silver matching outfits and was displayed onstage until the end of the song.
The band then got the crowd jumping to their rock radio hit Body Talks, Luke’s shimmering top looking like a disco ball in the New York skyline’s setting sun. In typical Struts fashion, Luke addressed the crowd before their third song, giving an option. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…if you ain’t ready to dance, sing and let yourself go…well, you might as well FUCK OFF through the exit, right now.” And into Kiss This they went, the crowd already in the palm of their collective hands. Summer smash In Love With a Camera was up next before the boys took it up ANOTHER notch (ya know, because riding a Harley onto stage was not nearly enough).
Fan favourite, Fire took the rooftop crowd by surprise when flames shot up along the back of the stage behind drummer Gethin Davies as he hit furiously into the start of the song. There was an audible gasp from the crowd on the first shot as the band continued on, ACTING LIKE THERE WEREN’T STREAMS OF FIRE RIGHT BEHIND THEM. I have a theory that Gethin’s hair might have been slightly singed after that number, as the entire front row could feel the heat from the flames! After jumping to-and-fro from the piano for Fire, Spiller again took a seat at the bench and started off the hit One Night Only solo, asking if the crowd was ready to sing along. About half-way through the number, guitarist, Adam Slack and bassist Jed Elliott darted to the middle of the stage, playing back-to-back sharing quite a beautiful guitarmony moment before Slack later went on to play his explosive solo in the song. Audible gasps were clear once again as sparks shot up on the finale of the song, where the flames had previously been.
The concert wasn’t even half way through and its was already shaping up to be the best Struts gig in history. Soaking wet, Spiller comes to the front of the stage and does an elaborate James Brown-esque boogie-down and announces his favourite time of day is none other than “DIRTY SEXY MONEY TIME!” To be bouncing up and down with 3400 other strangers to Dirty Sexy Money on a rooftop in the summer night’s air was an amazing feeling; jumping so high and feeling like time was suspended.
Somehow making time for a wardrobe change, Spiller came back, adorning a shimmering blue and silver tunic of sorts, the sleeves hanging cape-like on either arm and takes a seat at the little white piano again. The look was beyond perfect for Tatler Magazine, which discusses living extravagantly and over-the-top lifestyles depicted in all of the celebrity magazines. Moving right along, a brilliant medley was next, featuring a good amount of fan favourites from their debut record, “Everybody Wants” including The Ol’ Switcheroo, Black Swan, Roll Up and Young Stars, which again ended with a blistering guitar solo from Slack. When a band only has two full-length records out so many requested cuts, a medley like The Struts put on is a perfect addition to the set.
From his extended guitar solo—with a spotlight on him and everything!—Slack walked back to a stage riser as the rest of the band rejoined and our dance commander Luke Spiller ordered everyone to jump again for the snotty punk rocker that is I Do It So Well. If you’re at all as I once was and not sold on the studio version, you need to get your ass to a Struts show ASAP and experience the band performing the number live. It’s got a fat, sexy baseline by Jed Elliott during a breakdown where Spiller takes you on a journey down the roadblocks the band has faced for their look, sound and more over the years with a fabulous crowd call back, “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ohhhhhhhhhh” (which of course sounds better live than the onomatopoeia I tried to sound out, there).
After ramping up, the band takes it down a notch for a beautiful acoustic rendition of fan favourite, Mary Go Round featuring Luke on vocals and Adam on guitar. They only added this back into the set on last year’s sell-out tour after some college students made a YouTube video requesting it by saying “please play Mary Go Round” 500 times in creative ways around campus.
While it was only those three requesting it, every crowd big and small is better off, now, Luke asking to for everyone to get their mobiles out and illuminate him as he traipses around, sleeves billowing to Slack’s strumming. The entirety of the song is essentially one big sing along; a three-way between Spiller, Slack and the crowd.
Harley-Davidson may have sponsored the Pier 17 show, but it was Dodge’s current campaign featuring The Struts taking on Van Halen’s version of Dancing in the Street. With Gethin’s rapid drum lead-in, it was the perfect pick me up to get the crowd engaged and dancing again after the acoustic Mary Go Round sing-a-long. “I wanna see you dancing with each other…don’t look at me so fucking confused.” Following up with what has become a live staple with one song of the night in their set, “I want you to turn to the person you came here with tonight, tap them on the shoulder and say, LET’S DANCE BABY! … Alright, now this is the best bit, turn to a complete stranger, break the ice, tap them on the shoulder and say, HEY YOU. LET’S BOOGIE WOOGIE WOOGIE!” It really takes a strong performer to put their own spin on a cover—of a cover in this case—but The Struts do it so well and somehow managed to make this number a standout part of the night, Luke prancing about the stage and interacting with the crowd.
Rounding out the main set as per usual was Put Your Money on Me—which is just a really feel good, dancer number—and Where Did She Go, one of the first songs Spiller ever wrote. During the latter, Spiller had everyone get down, asking “are you ready to shake your hips? Are you ready to sing with your lips? Gimme yeaaaaaaaah…gimme yeaaaaaaaah” as the entire rooftop pivoted and swayed left-right-left-right. When everyone jumped up, singing and dancing per his command, a large amount of folks up front along the barrier released white confetti, coinciding with the firework-type pyrotechnics along the back of the stage. It made for a truly beautiful display, even matching the lads’ costumes!
At the level of volume being put out by the Pier 17 rooftop attendees, I am certain the entirety of Brooklyn heard the thunderous cheers and applause across the river. Luke emerged back after a brief encore, sporting a purple jacket with silver embellishments and did a hauntingly beautiful solo version of Somebody New on the piano, another track off of their sophomore release ‘YOUNG&DANGEROUS.’ As the rest of The Struts came back to the stage, Luke took a moment to acknowledge both BONES UK, The Glorious Sons as well as the entire Pier 17 staff, The Struts crew, their American management, and lastly, the fans. Spiller gushing, “you have made the last four years of touring the best years of their lives! Whether you discovered us this evening, last week, two years ago, five years ago…thank you for coming, for giving our music and our career a chance. We love you, see you, GOODNIGHT NEW YORK!!” And the band started into perhaps their most Queen-influenced song, Ashes. Of course, being the sequel to Fire, the pyrotechnics were out in full force again, fountains of flames erupting and fireworks sparking throughout.
As Ashes came to a most triumphant end, Adam soloing out until only Luke’s last few notes on the piano remained, Spiller stood up, roaring, “GET’EM UP!!!” And in unison, all 3400 people were clapping for all they were worth after a nearly two-hour non-stop set. The final encore performance of the night of course being their breakthrough hit, Could Have Been Me. Spiller’s departing words to the crowd? “NEW YORK CITY. REMEMBER THE NAME, THE STRUTS,” as he knocked the mic stand over and flames fired off one last time from the cannons along the back of the stage. I can assure you, no one in attendance that night will have a hard time remembering the name The Struts.
The next time The Struts hit our area will be at the end of this month, having a set at Asbury Park’s Sea.Hear.Now. Festival on Saturday September 21. The festival is already sold out, but
keep an eye out for resellers that may not be able to attend last minute. The following Friday September 27, they’ll be a bit further outside the Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg at XL Live. Tickets are still available for this show, but are going quickly. Avoid excess TM fees by calling their box office, direct!
Of course, everyone knows that Philadelphia loves The Struts…AND THEY LOVE US RIGHT BACK!! About two weeks ago, they announced Philadelphia dates—oh, yes. PLURAL—to round their banner year out touring in support of their sophomore release, YOUNG&DANGEROUS. Knowing the first would sell out almost instantly, they had a second date at The Fillmore Philly reserved and ready-to-go later that day for general on-sale. If you missed your chance to grab tickets to the December 28 gig, you can still grab them for the 29, here (but don’t wait—they’ll be gone soon!!
We also recommend keeping an ear out for local radio contests and re-sale tickets to appear closer to the show. Trust me, you won’t wanna miss them when they Roll Up in town!
YOUNG&DANGEROUS on Spotify:
Dancing in the Street on Spotify:
All photos by our girl Shannon Nicole!!