Two days before what is probably the most uniquely American holiday, Independence Day, The Wiltern played host to a trio of international acts. Most prominent among the three was The Struts. The British-formed headliners brought their Young & Dangerous tour to Los Angeles along with Canadians The Glorious Sons and New Zealander Kelsy Karter and her band. On what was an unseasonably cool early July evening, the interior of the historic theater became increasingly hot as the night marched on.
First to take the stage is Karter, accompanied by the guys with long hair–her four piece backing band. Karter and company power through an eight song grouping of punk-pop inspired rock. Karter prances back and forth across the stage and stops to point and gesture before resuming her pacing. The band provides a solid musical foundation on which Karter can stand and sing. They deliver a stirring rendition of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love.
Next to the stage is the quintet The Glorious Sons. They run through a nine song list of original numbers. The Sons are fronted by lead vocalist Brett Evans. Evans, roams about the stage, delivering his vocals, barefoot, wearing red plaid pants. Their music is pretty straight forward rock, with a twin guitar lineup of Jay Emmons and Chris Koster. Handling drums and bass are Adam Paquette and Chris Huot respectively.
On stage they are actually a quintet with Josh Hewson playing keyboards and occasional guitar. The Glorious Sons deliver a proficient performance and have a nice polished sound.
The Struts, the evening’s main attraction arrive on a darkened stage. Through strobe lights, vocalist Luke Spiller joins his band mates as he runs on to the stage, waving to the audience. The beginning to the introductory number sounds like a mid 70’s era David Bowie song, when it hits full stride the three members not behind the drum kit are jumping in unison as Spiller implores the gallery to follow suit. This elevated energy level continues throughout the set. Spiller provides the bulk of the energy to the show. A consummate performer, Spiller resembles what would result if Mick Jagger, the aforementioned Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan were all placed in a blender and came out as a sequined and fringed smoothie. He has Jagger’s moves, Bowie’s sense of the theatrical, Mercury’s ability to connect with an audience and Bolan’s glamor. Add to that a voice with range and you get someone born to be on a stage.
The majority of the production is framed by four-minute pop-infused rockers. Creating the sonic parade ground on which Spiller can sashay about is a solid three person backing ensemble. Led by guitarist Adam Slack, the Struts tunes are marked by catchy riffs and hooky choruses. When the music calls for a less bombastic contribution from Slack, he demonstrates his playing abilities during solos, and the guy has serious chops. Gethin Davies puts punch in the sound behind the drums. Bassist Jed Elliott creates the bottom and together the three instrumentalists create a tight and robust sound. Although they may not be as active or as demonstrative on stage as their leader, each provides the right level of balance to the extreme activity of Spiller.
One of the high points of the show is when they perform their newest single, as Spiller announces the song was just released. It’s not often that you get to see a group do a cover of a cover, but they pull it off when they play a Van Halenesque version of Martha and The Vandellas’ Dancing In The Streets. The high energy is broken only when Spiller sits at the piano for a few numbers. During the first song of their encore, Spiller sits alone on the stage at the piano to serenade the audience with Somebody New. He shares a moment with the crowd as they return the favor and sing one of the choruses right back to him.
They complete the night with the anthem Could Have Been Me, to which the audience echoes the chorus and throws red balloons around near the stage. The show concludes and there is a fact that is undeniable, every person in attendance got their money’s worth. That is a documented aim for the band, to give a stellar performance each and every night as they feel that is what their fans deserve. Mission accomplished on this night for certain. Some things do not always translate to scale, but witnessing The Struts delight a room of 1,200, it is easy to imagine and almost impossible to believe that they won’t soon be playing to 20,000 as headliners in the near future. Those who were able to catch them in this intimate venue, have most assuredly stolen an experience.
CLICK HERE to view more pics of THE STRUTS.
CLICK HERE to view more pics of THE GLORIOUS SONS.