LIVE – The Struts + Cardinal Black @ O2 Institute, Birmingham, UK

Review and Photography by Robert Barrett

When people claim rock is dead, it’s an eye roller. Especially when British bands like the Struts can so capability drag glam rock forward into the 21st Century kicking, screaming, and strutting. It was about time they returned to the UK after living in LA for a few nights of old school rock n roll goodness.

The O2 Institute was full of excited “strutters” who were treated to a truly excellent opening act in the form of bluesy rockers Cardinal Black. Incredible vocals met gutsy, rootsy tunes, with easily one of the best guitarists I’ve seen for a while. It was also refreshing to see a support enjoying themselves, even after lead singer Tom dropped his pint during the rousing “Half White”.

The last three songs provided a slower bluesy end end to the set with some unbelievable face melting solos, a band to keep high on your radar.

The stage was adorned with a giant Union Jack, like a Prime Minister candidate’s press release (but a lot cooler I promise you). The Struts exploded onto the stage with “Primadonna Like You” the whole band jumping and kicking around the stage, having the time of their lives.

Front man Luke Spiller feels like he’s been pulled straight from the 70’s the way he plays the stage and captivates the audience. “Kiss This” perfect singalong chorus had the passionate fans shouting it back to him with equal amounts of energy. He showed off his versatility when hopping onto the piano for “One Night Only”.

“Who’s feeling sexy tonight? Who wants a dance?” questioned Luke before kicking into “Dirty Sexy Money”. The answer, all of the audience. The show got sweatier and sweatier as the night went on, with the crowd and band looking drenched. “Let me see your smiles, this is England alright” joked Luke, it’s the simple things you miss after being away so long.

 A short respite came in the form of a cover of “Wicked Games”. But it was short lived as the band came back for a killer encore of “Strange Days” and “Could Have Been Me”. Rock and Roll ain’t dead, it’s just been living in LA for a while.

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