REVIEW: The Struts at Irving Plaza in NYC

Originally published 3/7/16

Often times when a new artist is compared to a legendary band of yesteryear, it builds expectations and brings with it great hype. The Struts, the latest entry in the category of UK-export rock bands, are the latest band to be met with such hype and expectations following comparisons to Queen and The Rolling Stones, comparisons which would surely be met with disappointment by most bands. The Struts are finally the exception, not only living up to the hype, but exceeding it with a knockout performance worthy of rave reviews and much respect.

The Struts hit Irving Plaza in New York on 3/3, to support the US release of their debut album, Everybody Wants, and brought much fanfare with them fresh off their shows played in support of Motley Crue’s final tour. The cult following from their days across the pond clearly came to New York with them, as the very clearly oversold Irving Plaza was as packed as I’ve ever seen, filled well over capacity with seemingly diehard Struts fans who sang along to the entire set.

Opening with Roll On, the energy this band brings with them was apparent from the start, and it wasn’t long before even I was singing along to Could Have Been Me while working in the photo pit, which is something I never do. I couldn’t help myself on this night, as all the hype surrounding The Struts had me more excited to see a band than I’ve been in a long time, which is rare for a band that only has one album and a limited set list to choose from. Needless to say, The Struts played Everybody Wants in its entirety,  all of which were unbelievably performed, but the highlight of the night for me has to be their cover of Bowie’s Rebel, Rebel, which they of course dedicated to the late rock icon.

After their tribute to Bowie, the band went right into their other hit, Kiss This, which is a legitimate classic rock song that takes you to the 1960’s and feels like it should have been played at Woodstock 50 years ago, not in a small venue in NYC in 2016. That’s not to say it isn’t a great song, it is, and I’m listening to it as I write this, but it’s not something you see from bands today and that’s part of what makes The Struts unique. They break the “rules” for what’s popular and what sells today, playing hard hitting classic rock songs with incredible energy and take no prisoners as they quick ascend the ranks of rock music.

Unfortunately, like everything else, this too must come to an end. After running through the rest of Everybody Wants, The Struts closed with an epic performance of Where Did She Go?, complete with a massive amount of confetti blowing out of the rafters and onto the crowd, as it sung along in unison. As I mentioned, I can’t remember the last time I was this hyped up over a band, but The Struts bring with them a very good reason to be hyped up: They’re just that good.

I’ve seen AC/DC twice, RUSH twice, Motley Crue three times (without The Struts, though), Nightwish three times, KISS, Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Queen (with Adam Lambert)- I could go on for days, but no band has ever excited me like The Struts. No band has ever left me so impressed that I bought their CD at the venue. No band has ever left me speechless at the end of a show. No band except The Struts, that is. These guys are the real deal, and the cult following inside Irving Plaza speaks volumes to just how good they are.

I can’t say enough about this band, I really can’t. The Struts are the real thing, this generation’s Queen. I’ve been listening to Everybody Wants almost non-stop since Thursday, and it’s scary how much Spiller’s voice sounds like Freddy Mercury’s. Whether that’s by effort or dumb luck makes no difference, as he’s backed up by drummer Gethin Davies, who rocks as hard as Roger Taylor and guitarist Adam Stack, and while Stack is no Brian May, he doesn’t need to be. There isn’t another guitarist on this earth who can rival Brian May, and any comparison would be egregious at best. Bassist Jed Elliot rounds out the quartet to create one unbelievable rock group in The Struts.

This band is on the verge of stardom, and I’ll bet money that they’ll be selling out Madison Square Garden a year from now. If you’re not listening to The Struts, go pick up Everybody Wants. Right now. If they’re coming to your city, buy a ticket. Right now. They will not disappoint. The world has been waiting a long time for the next truly great rock band, and that band may have finally arrived in The Struts.

Check out our photo gallery from The Struts’ performance at Irving Plaza. Photos by Sean Murphy: