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The Strokes, All Points East Festival review - let them entertain you | reviews, news & interviews

The Strokes, All Points East Festival review - let them entertain you

The Strokes, All Points East Festival review - let them entertain you

The New York quintet returned after four years, and brought their hits

Fighting through the crowd: The Strokes

Back in 2001, after the release of their debut album This Is It, The Strokes weren’t just the most fashionable band in the world, they were also regarded as the group that could “save rock”. That was asking quite a lot.

This Is It was 36 minutes of near-perfect guitar pop, delivered with New York cool, insouciance and sex appeal, but it was also as retro as their East Village thrift-store threads. It seemed to contain echoes of every guitar riff you’d ever loved. Didn’t "Alone, Together" sound like the Undertones? "Last Nite" like Tom Petty? "Someday" like the Buzzcocks?

It didn’t matter. These were brilliant pop songs, with tunes and attitude, and there were plenty more to come. The Strokes didn’t save rock – no one could – but they did make three great albums, changed how boys dressed, and were able to generate huge warmth and anticipation 18 years on for their first appearance in the UK in four years at the All Points East festival in Victoria Park, east London.

“I went to the concert and I fought through the crowd,” sang Julian Casablancas (pictured right by Jeff Moh), dressed in black and rocking a mullet, as a big forward-surge greeted the delirious guitar opening of “Heart in a Cage”. The Strokes were back in a field in the city, and they’d brought their hits.

That’s pretty much what every festival-goer wants. I’d have been happy to hear them play their 2016 single “OBLIVIUS” – which conjured Queen, of all people – or maybe a new track like the one they debuted earlier this month in New York, but no one could be disappointed by a set which included a rare outing for “Under Control”, with its stuttering drum intro to one of the saddest, sexiest guitar riffs ever. It captures the glamorous languor of The Strokes better than almost any other song.

There were no longueurs. The climax seemed to start with “Reptilia” about half way through and just kept going from there. People danced, bounced around and sang along to “New York City Cops” – “they ain’t too smaaart”. The Strokes are another American band that we think we discovered here – their first single was released on Rough Trade. We don’t see enough of them, but they made this appearance count.

Nikolas Fraiture’s basslines were as steady as his Dee Dee Ramone stare. The sound was clean and tight (although it could have been louder), which meant none of the melodies got muddied, and songs like “Razorblade” – or “Someday”, which is bursting with them – could deliver their essence of pure pop pleasure. They ended with “Last Nite” – of course, they did. The Strokes kept their cool, but came to entertain, and they did. 

'Under Control' captures the glamorous languor of The Strokes better than almost any other song


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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