If you were to take a stroll through Disneyland on any given day, you would encounter the most diverse group of people anywhere in the world. Young, old, tall, short, thin, fat (or weight challenged for you sensitive type). People of virtually every race, creed and color. It’s a place where folks from all walks of life, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds gather with one common goal, to enjoy The Happiest Place On Earth.
In the shadow of the Magic Kingdom, a mere few hundred yards away lies perhaps the second happiest place on earth, at least it was on the evening on February 29, 2020. The House of Blues – Anaheim played host to The Struts, Derby England’s answer to sliced bread, in the second of a four date run on their Tour De California, sponsored by Harley Davidson motorcycles. And not unlike Walt’s wonderful world, The Struts, Luke Spiller (vocals, Piano), Adam Slack (guitar), Jed Elliott (bass) and Gethin Davies (drums) have garnered one of the most devoted and diverse fanbases in music today, affectionately known as The Strutters. This group of crazy, beautiful people began lining up at 11:30 am—just about 10 hours before showtime. Fans like Abby, a 21 year old Struts aficionado drove nearly 80 miles with her kid sister to see the band “again” and held a spot for their mom who would arrive later in the evening with a change of clothes for the girls—naturally. Rex, a crazy, loveable mofo of a character came from Mississippi for a night with the young and dangerous and a demure 28 year old pharmacist from El Paso, Texas flew into town just to see her favorite band. Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins and red-headed step children all lined the walkway anxiously awaiting entry.
At 9:15 the lights went down and the ocean of humanity roared to life with the power and intensity of a tidal wave, rolling, crashing, thundering. Deafening screams filled the air as the band—seemingly shot out of a cannon—launched into Primadonna Like Me, the crowd jumped up and down in unison with Spiller singing along, “Do ya wanna? Do, do ya wanna, be a primadonna like me tonight?” But before the crowd could even catch their breath, Slack and Elliott quickly veered into Body Talks, both tracks from 2018’s Young & Dangerous. Spiller, an amalgamation of Mercury, Jagger, Bowie and any other “flamboyant” frontman you can think of, works the stage with the greatest of ease and plays the crowd like a Stradivarius. His exaggerated moves, gyrations and…well…strutting holds his audience’s attention, while his calls to action are obediently adhered to by the 2000+ shoulder-to-shoulder fervent fans packed into House Of Blues. While it’s clear Spiller is the main attraction, his bandmates are no slouches, musically nor theatrically. Their stylistic versatility and complimentary backing vocals are a large part of the band’s signature sound, particularly on In Love With A Camera, where Spiller climbs the ladder to hit that falsetto chorus. The entire group performs with an intense level of energy, Davies bangs the hell out of his five-piece and is a blast to watch, Slack and Elliott play to the crowd, striking a pose here and there, all while not trying to upstage one another.
The band is currently working on new music, but haven’t committed to a full length album just yet, but treated the crowd to a couple new songs, including an acoustic number called Low Key, where Spiller had the audience singing along as if they’d heard it a hundred times before. The 15+ song set included Fire, One Night Only, Dirty Sexy Money, Put Your Money On Me, a Tatler Magazine medley and closed with Where Did She Go? But if you thought this crowd was gonna let The Struts “go” you’d be mistaken. After a cacophony screams, claps, stomps, whistles and cheers, the band re-emerged, with Spiller taking his place in the spotlight at the piano, for the first of their three song encore. As soon as he began the intro to Somebody New, the crowd swayed side to side in unison, rock n’ roll’s version of the wave and sang every word of the chorus, perhaps even louder than Spiller himself. Next was Ashes (Part 2), a Queen-inspired power ballad where Spiller’s vocal prowess is brilliantly showcased. Closing the show (for real this time) was Could Have Been Me, a song that aptly sums up the essence of The Struts, a live life to the fullest, failure is not an option, success at all cost philosophy, that truly makes them young and dangerous.
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