By Donovan Roche
“Are you ready for the best night of your life?” teased The Struts’ flamboyant frontman Luke Spiller. Cocky as it may have sounded, the singer wasn’t far off in describing the show attendees at The Observatory North Park were about to witness on Aug. 11.
Opening with the appropriate “Put Your Hands Up,” Spiller & Co. requested a lot of interaction from the capacity crowd, and they obliged en masse. Throughout the night, the singer asked fans to clap, wave their arms side-to-side, crouch down, jump up, dance with people next to them, and even bow to praise the prima donna (more on that later).
The British glam-rock band has been riding a mounting wave of popularity since releasing their 2016 debut, Everybody Wants. Recently, they opened for the Foo Fighters on a few key dates of their tour (including Madison Square Garden), and they’re embarking on a North American headline tour next month.
Early in their set, Spiller told the audience that their still-unnamed sophomore effort was finished. The band ultimately played three new songs from the forthcoming album, including “Fire (Part 1)” and “Somebody New,” a power ballad surprisingly saved for the encore, which didn’t entirely pay off.
The big surprise of the night, however, was when the singer—looking like a latex-laden court jester and drenched in sweat—informed the crowd that they would be filming the music video for their swaggering new single, “Primadonna Like Me,” which is every bit as infectious as their best work.
With camera’s rolling, the band went through the song twice (sort of). The first go was just like the rest of the concert—full-tilt from the stage. For the second take, Spiller divided the front floor in half, as if parting the Red Sea, to create a lane down the middle through which he could walk. Charmingly embarrassed by the ridiculousness of the request, the singer instructed the crowd to praise him as he paraded by like a primadonna, lip-syncing to segments of the pre-recorded song. Suffice it to say, all participants (this reviewer included) abided as any devoted flock would.
At the risk of coming off effusive, Spiller really is the quintessential frontman. Since taking the States by storm two years ago, he’s often been compared to Freddie Mercury—and rightfully so. Like a proud peacock—I can’t help but say it—he struts across the stage, head held high and feathers aflutter. But if you pay particular attention to how he works the stage and commands the crowd’s unwavering attention, you’ll also see glimmers of Bowie, Jagger and Tyler.
This isn’t to take anything away from the rest of the band (guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies)—who shined throughout the night, especially on standouts “Kiss This,” “The Ol’ Switcheroo” and the show-closing favorite “Could Have Been Me.” They also had fun covering Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” during which a young girl was plucked from the audience to reprise Courteney Cox’s role from the music video. She playfully sang and danced with Spiller, and talked her way into taking a Snapchat before leaving the stage. After all, this was the best night of her life.
For the past 30 years, Donovan Roche has covered the world of music—from the release of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” to Prince’s unpronounceable name change to the return of David Byrne.