It’s a sort of home-coming for (one of) The Struts as they play on the boat that rocks as part of a small tour.
Opening is Nottingham-based House Of Thieves. Some would say a strange choice, as you wouldn’t necessarily pair them together with the Struts. You might expect to find their indie-rock sound supporting Oasis or similar. That said, they ply their craft well. The band lineup, Tom Gourlay (vocals and acoustic guitar), Tim Ridgway (guitar and vocals), Tom Gent (bass and vocals), and Rhys Dolman (drums and vocals), have been together about four years which shows in their performance.
The band’s set is well-received by the Bristol audience. They danced and sang along as House Of Thieves played originals like “This Time Next Year,” which is somewhat reminiscent of Streets; “Do When You Don’t,” a faster number, popular with the crowd; and the 90s-esque “Lovers Tiff.”
House Of Thieves demonstrates their indie rock tilt with “Rise And Shine,” a track with an Oasis “Wonderwall” vibe. Their set wraps with “Girl Let’s Do It,” a band favourite about the act of making love. The crowd seems to enjoy the dance-friendly number and give the guys a great ovation.
The Struts have built up a large following over the last couple of years. They have opened for the Stones in Paris and supported Motley Crue in the US. This date is part of a short tour before heading back to a long set of North American dates.
Tonight, they visit The Thekla, one of singer Luke Spiller’s old haunts, having lived just down the road. Joined by Addo Slack on guitar and vocals, Jed Elliott on bass and vocals, and Gethin Davies on drums, the band take the stage to the theme song of Sportsnight. Luke could be the love-child of Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, or Steven Tyler – he certainly has the swagger and stage presence of all three.
The band’s music is a mix of the same, as well, glam-rock with sing-along choruses to get any crowd going. And the crowd tonight is a diverse mix – rockers, hipsters, uni-types, 17 to 70-year-olds. From the first song, Luke has the crowd eating from his hand, with fans of all types responding with cheers.
“I Just know” opens, but when we go into “Roll Up,” the temperature rises, and the crowd goes mad singing along to every word and hooked on Luke’s every movement. “Times Are Changing” is an old-school 80s rocker,
This concert is the band’s first ever gig in Bristol, and the singer tell’s us he was not expecting such a great reaction. The full boat will beg to differ! “The Ole Switcheroo” has a 70s pop-rock feel with a harmony chorus that begs you to sing along. “Kiss This,” a 90s alternative number with a Jane’s Addition vibe, is followed by “Mary Go Round,” a heartbreak ballad.
“Dirty Sexy Money” follows with the crowd singing the chorus, “she Know’s what she’s got because she’s so shit hot,” at the top of their voices! Fun, yes.
Having previously changed into his third (Zandra Rhodes designed) costume, Luke gives us “Let’s Make This Happen” and “Young Stars.” These are followed by another crowd sing-along favourite, “Put Your Money On Me.”
Luke Spiller is a fantastic frontman, both enigmatic and engaging. However, the rest of the band are just as talented. They all shine tonight, giving their lead vocalist the platform on which to perform.
The Struts’ encore begins with an acoustic version of “BlackSwan.” They close the night with their seventies rocker, “Where Did She Go.” The crowd follows Luke’s instruction to sit on the floor, before all jumping to their feet to rock out and sing along to the end. After rapturous applause and cheers from the crowd, the theme to “Only Fools And Horses” plays, as the lights come up and the happy audience leaves.
The Struts deliver a fantastic set, as is evident from the jubilant crowd. Fans in Bristol will be counting the days until the band returns.
The Struts have just re-issued their debut album Everybody Wants, which is available from usual outlets.
Photos by Becky O’Grady.