To quote the John Lennon song Nobody Told Me, without a doubt, just about every human being on this particular planet has come to the revelation that these are “strange days indeed.” Britain’s pop-rock darlings The Struts, somehow found their way to Ventura, CA for the next to last date of their Strange Days Are Over tour. Borrowing the title from their fall 2020 release Strange Days, The Phenom Four brought some much needed big name entertainment to the Mission City at the Majestic Ventura Theater on Sunday, January 23rd.
The Struts have a well-earned reputation for giving their audience every penny’s worth of their admission price in entertainment and this night would be no exception to that rule. The set would begin with a standard trio of tunes from their first two releases, Primadonna Like Me, Body Talks and Kiss This. During the opening salvo, vocalist and ringmaster Luke Spiller, uses his extraordinary showmanship skills to conjure the audience right into the palm of his hand. Spiller navigates the entire breadth of the stage, pausing in one spot to emphasize a line and metaphorically drop some panties, then moving to another spot to repeat the act, all while advocating crowd involvement.
Compared to previous tours, the stage set is pared down, with less risers, and no elaborate backdrops. There is just an expansive Union Jack hanging behind the band. Also missing are the multiple wardrobe changes from Spiller, wearing the same ensemble throughout the entire set. This venture also seems to reveal a more mature version of themselves. Although the show still has all the elements that bring people back again and again, their is the added element of new songs which seem to have a bit more substance, both musically and lyrically. The ladies still swoon over guitarist Adam Slack. Jed Elliott, amped up as always, backpedals to and from his microphone position and was especially playful on this evening.
The Majestic was probably at about half capacity on the evening, and those who were there were treated to five songs from the latest release, as well as a very cool acoustic version of Mary Go Round. After crowd favorite Put Your Money On Me, the quartet tears through a medley of tunes, which drummer Gethin Davies drives all the way through, thumping out segues between song snippets, which included parts of These Times Are Changing, Bulletproof Baby and Where Did She Go. With the room at full attention, they drop it down with a soulful and bluesy Am I Talking To The Champagne, another exhibition of their maturation. Next Slack takes center stage to grind out a reverberating guitar solo as a lead in to new and very hard, Wild Child.
The Struts finish out the main set with the anthemic I Do It So Well. They return to the stage shortly with Spiller assuming the piano for Strange Days, which starts out slow and builds into a sonic boom. The only number left is their standard closer, Could Have Been Me, to which the crowd sings along to the chorus of “I wanna feel love and pain, wanna feel pride and shame” in this homage to living a life of leaving nothing unventured. Spiller leaves the crowd with the statement, “Remember the name The Struts!” Whether or not the strange days are truly over, is most assuredly open for debate. On this particular January evening, with The Struts leaving it all on the stage, one might find just a little piece of normalcy in something you can count on. The Struts never disappoint!
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