British Sea PowerEdit this event
**Not exactly the Oxford Zodiac gig.
** Judging by the scowl on Julian Casablancas’ spot-ridden, puffy red face, he needs Ally Pally like a hole in the head. Subsequently, what we get is an evening of clinically rehearsed retro-indie, but little else. They could have maybe taken a leaf out of British Sea Power’s book, or possibly a whole tree, given that the Brighton quintet’s typically loopy stage set includes quite a few of them.
BSP you see, are nuts. And absolutely spellbinding to boot. Once the beer sniffing, NME-swallowing audience desists in throwing cups, they all begin to cotton on too, because for all the novelty that swells around the band’s stage set up (keyboardist in tin helmet, stuffed owl and the aforementioned trees), their unique and quite obliterating sounds are wildly enthralling. You can’t tie it to a time, and though it’s possible to pick out bits of Joy Division, and early Echo And The Bunnymen, the energy and riotous psychedelia render it quite unique. Pretentious yes, but at least it has character. Which is more than can be said for New York’s finest.
Dressed as a Libertine and under low lights, Julian Casablancas could still be in his infamous wheelchair for all the energy he’s exerting tonight. While tunes like ‘Last Nite’, ‘New York City Cops’ and ‘Someday’ are effortless singalongs, there’s far too much blandness interspersed with it, in the likes of ‘Automatic Stop’ and ‘The End Has No End’. Guitarists Nik, Nick and Al* have the posing under control luckily, though there’s none of the dramatic guitar wielding that their opposite numbers, *The Datsuns (remember them?) trademark. It lacks chaos and more importantly: fun. It’s also a great shame that Room On Fire’s standout, the slow one, ‘Under Control’ is tossed away without any delicacy right at the start, as the rest of the gig continues at one pace and one wonders whether Julian’s drum-machine has more than one setting.
When The Strokes write a decent song, as opener and new single ‘Reptilla’ indubitably is, the over-hype fades into insignificance beneath its blushing rollercoaster of a tune. But everything they play is held too close to their chest, lacking the raw looseness and indulgence that bands like British Sea Power, White Stripes and The Von Bondies exude. Although their sixty-five minute set is carried off meticulously, the simple truth is that massive shows like this require much more than playing songs straight from the record.
The Strokes have it in them to be everything they’re touted to be. The Elite chic, the Stones cheeks, and of course the post-tragic cover version (The Clash’s ‘Clampdown’) – it’s all here. However, without the claustrophobic urgency of playing in a club everything gets lost and it’s more a case of ‘It Is Shit’ rather than ‘This Is It’.
DiScuss: Do you still wanna shag Julian? Take a good look at his face…_
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