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Struts - House of Blues, Chicago, 24/11/2018

  by Lisa Torem

published: 4 / 2 / 2019

Struts - House of Blues, Chicago, 24/11/2018


Lisa Torem is mesmerised by charismatic and energetic British rockers The Struts when they head out to Chicago for a House of Blues gig.

On the ashes of their second album, 'Young and Dangerous', The Struts skidded towards the final notch of 2018's Body Talks Tour which ended in New Orleans. Performing the second of two sold-out shows at Chicago's House of Blues, Luke Spiller greeted fans with the expected confidence and flair. The British rock quartet (guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, drummer Gethin Davies and lead vocalist Spiller), who have fearlessly opened for The Who, The Rolling Stones and more recently for the Foo Fighters at Chicago's Wrigley Field, were greeted primarily by serial fans plus a handful of newbs. As one fan exclaimed: "When The Struts come to Chicago, I go wherever they go." No surprises here: The Struts create an instant buzz by virtue of outstanding hooks, universal themes, polished instrumental skills and Spiller's outlandish/intoxicating persona. They opened with a tongue-in-cheek ode to glitzy fame, 'Primadonna Like Me' (make sure you catch the related video filmed in Las Vegas ) followed with 'Body Talks', another high-voltage pleaser. Everyone knew by heart the quirky lyrics of 'Kiss This' but even those who didn't danced like crazy to new songs such as 'In Love with a Camera', where Spiller playfully mugged taking a crowd shot, and 'Fire (Part 1)'. Fans were swept away by the delightful harmonies and the freshness and fervor of these tunes. Meanwhile, the flamboyant lead vocalist never disregarded his imperative role as a showman: "Are you ready to make history tonight?" he barked, stomping downstage, reminding fans that they play a vital part of every performance. Part of the Struts' allure is their attention to detail and style. Leave it to Spiller to appear in a reflective top with flowing sleeves, and further down the set list, a sparkly hat and vest that Liza Minelli would eye with envy. Then there's tall, cool Elliott, thumping out brilliant basslines, while wearing skin-tight leather. These guys never fail to excite and stimulate the senses. The Struts slid back to fun-loving classic 'Dirty Sexy Money' and on to the searing 'People', featuring excellent solo work by Slack. Spiller leaned in to sneer at the jam-packed room: "I had a feeling you and I were going to get along swimmingly". It was on 'People' that Spiller's textured voice registered pure gold. Not all fans recognized the opening bars of album orphan 'One Night Only', a gift to their long-term aficionados, but that didn't stop Spiller from egging them on anyway before harboring an interactive surprise. Prior to performing Bruce Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark', he gazed into the audience and ticked off a number of provisos. He needed just the right volunteer. His steel-blue eyes focused on an enthusiastic young woman towards the front. She was requested to follow his lead onstage. Their antics fueled wild competitive cheering, but when Spiller suspected that the audience might have drifted away for even a second, he demanded: "Sing it with me. Give me a beat! Deafen her with a scream and a shout." 'Mary Go Round' from 'Everybody Wants' speaks to the maturity of the band's early songwriting: "We go in circles on this rusty old ride/Maybe it's our time to say goodbye." The Struts smartly toned down the decibel level on this beautiful ballad, garnering a compelling contrast to the other spitfire rockers. Yet another positive attribute this night was the phenomenal pacing. Without a doubt, Chicago fans loved hearing the catchy songs that put the Struts on their Midwest radar, such as 'Put Your Money on Me' which ended with a charming group tableau. But when the set continued with new album lift, 'Bulletproof Baby', anchored in rock but peppered by Spiller's blistering blues-harp solo, that moment solidified the hunch that this versatile British band can compete confidently with heavies on both sides of the pond. For much of the encore, Spiller took to the keys. 'Somebody New' hints at a different type of sonic landscape. "It's not that I don't feel the feelings you do," Spiller crooned emphatically, reminding us, that although he's right up there with rock royalty as a belter, his vocal sweet spot is just as stunning. Another sampling from Young and Dangerous, 'Ashes (Part 2)' allowed the front man the freedom to linger at the mic. If there's such a thing as a four-ring circus, this is what The Struts' concert-goer gets: non-stop entertainment from start to finish. Few bands can corral Millennials, Boomers and Xennials the way The Struts have and continue to do. They swig down the best of classic rock and follow it up with a contemporary chaser. This unstoppable quartet are preparing for a UK tour in February 2019. If you're lucky enough to nab a place near the stage, be prepared to interact: Luke Spiller's demanding eyes and versatile voice do not rest and he expects his fans to follow suit. Photographs by Philamonjaro www.philamonjaro.com

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Struts - House of Blues, Chicago, 24/11/2018

Struts - House of Blues, Chicago, 24/11/2018

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