The Struts // Cardinal Black // Live Review // The O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire // London

It has been far too long since The Struts last graced our shores, and tonight would be a welcome release for so many people. There have been a few failed attempts over the last couple of years to at least get a small acoustic tour over here, but unfortunately, the state the world has been in, put a halt to that plan.

Tonight was night three of a six-night UK run of shows and If the first two are anything to go by, then all those in attendance are in for a treat. Tonight it was London’s turn and the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire was the venue.

It has been el scorchio over the past week or so, but tonight, although still very warm, was certainly a lot more manageable, which would certainly help as tonight was sure to be a packed, hot and sweaty show.

The Strutters, (hardcore fans of the band), were out in force with many attending every show of the Homecoming Tour. It is always a party atmosphere whenever this band and these fans get together, and any who are new to the band or have just not seen them live until now are all treated as family and welcomed into the fold. This creates a wonderful atmosphere within the venue.

Doors were at seven and it wasn’t long before the venue was filling up nicely. There is always a nice mix of ages at a Struts gig, so no one feels left out or uncomfortable about being there.

The support for this tour is a band called Cardinal Black, who I last saw at the end of 2021 supporting Myles Kennedy. They take to the stage around eight o’clock and proceed to play a fabulous set, giving a wonderful performance for this wanting crowd.

Now this band hails from Wales and consists of Tom Hollister on vocals, Chris Buck on guitar, Adam Roberts on drums, Greg Hollister on keyboards and for his last night standing in for Sam Williams on bass is Will Davies.

Tom has an amazing and soulful voice that lends itself perfectly to the music from Cardinal Black, this is complemented beautifully by Chris Buck on guitar who is an astonishing talent on the fretboard. His solos give each and every song a formidable consistency producing a sound that would fit perfectly for radio play. We are treated to songs from their debut EP as well as from Tom’s original band TH3. We get forty minutes of the pure soul with some phenomenal guitar playing from Buck.

The crowd lap up every note and takes them to their hearts. I am sure on this performance and others on the tour, that they will have made many new fans indeed.

Setlist:- ‘Rise Up’, ‘Tell Me How It Feels’, ‘Jump In’, ‘Where Do You Go?’, ‘Warm Love’, ‘I’m Ready’, ‘Half Way’, ‘Tied Up In Blue’.

 

https://www.thecardinalblack.com

 

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Just after nine and the lights go down and Gary Glitter blasts out over the speaker system. This indicates the imminent arrival of the band they have all been waiting for, The Struts. You can just make out Jed getting psyched up in the wings where no doubt the rest of the band are also doing the same. A few moments later and AdamJed and Geth run onto the stage to great applause and kick off the night before the enigmatic frontman Luke Spiller joins the party and straight away with one swift movement on the stage, he has the whole crowd in the palm of his hand. He instantly becomes the conductor of one big ass choir that wait on his every movement and instruction. The band are dressed in purple in one form or another, and all look resplendent in their finery.

They don’t hold back one bit and kick off the evening with an absolute banger of a track, ‘Primadonna Like Me’ from their ‘Young & Dangerous’ album, which has the crowd bouncing and the stage rockin’. Before a breath can be taken, they are into ‘Body Talks’ which keeps the tempo and party atmosphere well and truly alive. Again, no rest for the wicked, before one of my favourite tracks ‘Kiss This’, from the first album ‘Everybody Wants’ is blasted out to dancing and singing audience. Still no let up when next we are treated to ‘Hate How Much I Want You’, a track from the latest album release ‘Strange Days’.

‘Fire’ is another song that is really addictive. It has the whole audience singing the chorus loud and proud.

Time for a small breather of sorts for ‘One Night Only’ before the temperature rises again for ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ which again sees the sea of people all dancing in unison.

Next, we are all treated to a brand new song called ‘Fallin’, which is to be their next single release. This is another feel-good track that will no doubt please many a Struts fan and beyond.

‘Low Key In Love’ is next which was originally a duet with Paris Jackson, but for tonight Luke does a fabulous job flying solo.

Although Luke is the peacock strutting his stuff all over the stage, he is only one-quarter of the entirety that is the band. Along with Adam on guitar, Jed on Bass and Geth on drums. Each and everyone a well-oiled cog in the machine that is The Struts.

‘Mary Go Round’ is performed beautifully by Luke on the piano before the roof is raised again for ‘Put Your Money On Me’. Now although we have a very strong setlist tonight, there are quite a few songs that have not made it but are still very much part of the band’s make-up. These are performed in a medley which is very warmly received by the thankful crowd, with many singing at the tops of their voices throughout.

Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ is given the Luke treatment next and is a beautiful and haunting rendition of this fine tune.

One of the heavier tracks from the latest album is ‘Wild Child’, and this goes down a treat before the last track ‘I Do It So Well’, which is the crowd’s chance to really shine. Within the song, Luke introduces the band who are all received with great applause, before Luke splits the audience into two and readies for a sing-song.

Adam has the left half and Jed the right half. After a few calls and returns from Luke to the two sides, and with a wonderfully dynamic left/right switch, he announces that Jed’s side is the winner tonight. Next, he has everyone together to copy and sing back to him before he asks the audience who has seen them before, to which many hadn’t, so he asked the seasoned strutters to show them what to do next whilst welcoming them into the family. That’s exactly how a Struts show always feels like you are in one big happy family. Now was time to crouch and for the initiation of the newbies to begin. This is the point where Luke again conducts the willing participants to stay low gradually building momentum before getting everyone to jump up in unison and just have a party and enjoy the moment. This is a highlight for many at every Struts show.

The band go off stage before the obligatory chanting for more begins in earnest.

After a short time, Luke returns and sits at the piano and plays a wonderful version of ‘Strange Days’ before the rest of the band re-join him ready for the finale ‘Could Have Been Me’. This has been one amazing show that will be extremely hard to beat in terms of entertainment and pure musicianship.

You do not merely attend a Struts show, you become part of it. Every show envelops you into the mix and makes for a wonderful experience that will stay with you forever.

This was truly a five-star performance and I implore you if you can to catch one of the live shows from this fabulous band.

Setlist:- ‘Primadonna Like Me’, ‘Body Talks’, ‘Kiss This’, ‘Hate How Much I Want You’, ‘Fire’, ‘One Night Only’, ‘Dirty Sexy Money’, ‘Fallin’, ‘Low Key In Love’, ‘Mary Go Round’(Acoustic), ‘Put Your Money On Me’, ‘Medley’, ‘Wicked Game’, ‘Wild Child’, ‘I Do It So Well’. Encore:- ‘Strange Days’, ‘Could Have Been Me’.

 

 

 

Review & Photography : Will Carter // Two Finger Media //  https://www.facebook.com/TwoFingerMedia

 

 

‘The Homecoming Tour’

July 18 – Bristol – O2 Academy
July 19 – Manchester – O2 Ritz
July 20 – Leeds – Stylus

Tickets available here

TheStruts.com | @thestruts
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