The Struts at Corner Hotel, Melbourne, Thursday August 23, 2019.
The Struts gained a slew of new fans when they last toured our shores as Greta Van Fleet’s support band just six months ago. After Greta Van Fleet singer Josh Kiszka came down with laryngitis, the band was forced to cancel the final three of their four Australian shows, but The Struts – not wanting to remain idle by default – performed two blazing pop-up shows in Melbourne over consecutive nights, at Cherry Bar and Yah Yah’s, and one in Brisbane at Eatons Hill Hotel – all of which were free of charge.
From the moment The Struts hit the stage it’s full steam ahead with Primadonna Like Me and Body Talks (a music supervisor’s dream, this one scored sync placements galore!) straight outta the gates. They certainly don’t f-ck about!
Lead singer Luke Spiller sports some kind of sequinned armour, shiny pants – one leg black, the other white – plus Nikki Sixx-inspired war paint on his face (although Spiller’s stripes appear to be enhanced with glitter). Spiller really is a dead ringer for Freddie Mercury and demands constant audience involvement, screeching, “Get ’em up!” as our cue to raise arms skyward before requesting added spirit fingers, and then getting us all to punctuate the beat by clapping overhead. The Struts perform these stadium-ready anthems as if the Corner were Wembley Arena.
When guitarist Adam Slack gets a solo… OO-EE, the boy sure can play! Set highlight One Night Only is a glam-rock masterpiece during which Spiller rolls his ‘r’s in trademark exaggerated fashion. Once the key change hits, we’re putty. Spiller recounts being discouraged from “wearing makeup and clothes that make [him] look like a transvestite” by a former record label boss. Obviously the vocalist is having the last laugh now, as proven by the song that follows, I Do It So Well: “Yeah, I’m a star/ I’m a five-star hotel/ Don’t I do it so well?” Affirmative. Spiller’s speak-sing delivery during this cracking tune’s verses absolutely drips with ‘tude.
Occasionally we notice nods to Jet and riffs that reference ZZ Top. Then Spiller leads a call-and-response segment that calls to mind Mercury’s famous “AAAAAAAY-yo!” bit during Queen’s Live Aid set. We score a blistering guitar solo from Slack while Spiller leaves the stage for the first of a couple of costume changes.
Before The Struts’ rendition of Dancing In The Street, Spiller requests that we dance with each other rather than solo, encouraging us to look around and extend formal invitations to any desirable dance partners in our vicinity – he sure is master of the segue. There’s a proper bandmember intro so that those among us who are new to The Struts can learn their names. Then to conclude the band’s main-set closer, Where Did She Go, Spiller waves the cape-like sleeves of his glitzy top around like racing flags.
First encore song Somebody New gives us a moment to breathe and is probably as close to a power ballad as The Struts get: “It’s just my heart’s not ready yet for somebody new!” – let ’em down gently, hey? The Corner Massive then transform into a sea of happy-clappers during Could Have Been Me for a super-jubilant finish. The future of rock’n’roll is in safe hands (complete with spirit fingers, obviously).