By Doug Koztoski
One thing is for sure: The Struts frontman Luke Spiller knows how to make an entrance. After the two opening acts performed and the crowd was ready for the main event in Baltimore in May, lead guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies provided the rocking musical bed with “Put Your Hands Up” as Spiller was announced and he dashed onstage. Of course, the crowd roared. As expected, Spiller returned the favor with powerful vocals, strutting around the stage in glitzy attire.
For the next hour and fifteen minutes the sold-out crowd put their hands up, bounced up and down, sang along with and without prompting from Spiller and his bandmates and made this stop on The Struts 2017 tour, one that left the audience smiling, often, like Spiller, with maybe not as much face glitter as the singer, on average.
Even though The Struts and their hard rocking sound have opened for The Rolling Stones, in front of some 80,000, Baltimore’s Rams Head Live!, about 45 minutes north of Washington, D.C., a venue that holds about 1,500 people, was an excellent spot to see the group whether you were standing on the main floor, close to the stage, or up above on the next level. Spiller and Co. seemed to connect with everyone, and have a great time doing it, from those that even glanced at the stage, to a few that kept their eyes shut and just absorbed the music.
Other highlights in the main part of the concert included their hits “Kiss This” and “Put Your Money On Me,” as well as another that should have charted: “Dirty Sexy Money.”
For the encore, where Spiller was dressed like a combination of a clean-shaven Uncle Sam (from the iconic single finger pointing war poster from decades past) and early career Elton John fashion choices, the band returned to play two songs: “Could Have Been Me,” one of their best known tunes and “Where Did She Go.” A satisfying enough finish to a point, but like many a Chinese food dinner, soon afterwards one felt like wanting more, but perhaps that was by design. Their first album, anyway, is titled “Everybody Wants,” so maybe less is more, for now.
Just a couple things detracted from the concert: Mainly, the too short 13-song set. The band needs another album or two under their belt to have an expanded catalog to choose from. In the meantime, the foursome should utilize at least one or two cover versions that they have already done well including “Royals” by Lorde, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” the rock anthem “We Will Rock You” by Queen, and The Rolling Stones classic “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Otherwise, on a couple of songs at the Baltimore venue, the bass needed to be dialed back a little and Spiller’s vocals needed to be turned up.
The one song that seemed noticeably absent from their too brief set comes from their 2014 “Kiss This” EP; “Matter of Time,” a occasionally spicy but always rocking song that would have had the crowd bouncing once again, just as they most likely will when The Struts release their next album, which Spiller alluded to that night in Baltimore, saying they were working on it.
The new album will certainly bring some spunk, some grit and a few memorable songs from a band that seems to have the energy, drive and talent to launch to the next level, as the one song concludes: “So plain to see, so blatantly, It’s just a matter of time.”
Photo courtesy of Doug Koztoski