The Strokes - Rockness - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Strokes - Rockness

by Louise Harlow Rating: Release Date:

Soooo whaddaya know? The prodigal sons of New York have returned. Kill the fatted calf. Or hedge your bets until the fervour of four years' anticipation, and polite enquiries about the whereabouts of The Strokes has mellowed, and you can think straight?

Having carefully managed my expectations all weekend for what their festival closing set would offer, when it comes to it I actually have no idea what the next hour and 20 minutes will deliver. Reports from their sneaky London Dingwall's gig earlier in the week had confirmed that new material was conspicuous by its absence, and I wonder if tonight's set will leave another elephant in the room.... However things are looking a patch sketchy before we even get into the particulars of the set list, as the lights dim and Julian and co take to the stage to the sound of, the sound of.... 'We Will Rock You'? I had previously thought that only Hulk Hogan and the cast of Gladiators relied on 80s glam swagger to pep up a crowd, I now stand corrected. Leather clad and impenetrable behind opaque sunglasses (and sporting what I want to believe aren't highlights) Julian Casablancas looks a bit like a turgid caricature of himself, and is reminding me more of Richie Sambora than is ever excusable. But then 'New York City Cops' begins, and as Casablancas launches those spasmodic yelps over Valensi's irrepressible guitar scuzz, it is once again 2001 and I no longer care about any of the above.

Everything is as it should be- Albert Hammond Jr is smiling to himself, Fab Moretti could be the second most gleeful stick man after Ringo Starr, and Nikolai Fraiture is, well, his usual understated self. After rattling through an 'Is This It' heavy opening quarter, Casablancas engages in a little mid-set pitter-patter, with bearable levels of rock bombast. Benefitting from a crowd who have already been courted by the polite charm of Vampire Weekend and the magnificently timed USA's two point World Cup trump over England, Julian uses northern boot-licking and some plain stoking of the Scot/English coals of discontent to work over his crowd. Either way it was a pleasant surprise that Casablancas deigned to shoot the bull a bit with his public, (his shades and jacket were giving the whiff of a man who has maybe forgotten his manners) even if the reference to a 'fart in the gooch' situation and a following rendition of 'Eternal Flame' was more info than was probably needed.

Unsurprisingly, the bias of the set list leaned slightly more towards Is This It and Room On Fire, (First Impressions got a fair crack of the whip, accounting for just under a third of the set) but when the wait has been four long years, bowing to the critical opinion of your public is the only smart choice. Returning to the stage for a blistering four song encore including ' Juicebox' and 'Take it or leave It', Casablancas et al appeared to be a band genuinely pleased to be thick as thieves once again, after various indulgences in side projects and a hiatus lengthy enough to border on the terminal. All this, and yet album number four is still without a release date..... If this summer's Rockness and Isle of White shows are a ginger test of the waters of public opinion, then yes, Julian, you have unmistakeably received a Scottish handhold, backrub and gold star, now show us a new trick.

Photography by Louise Goodliffe and Dani Frisby.

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