Sunday, 13 June 2010

Live review - The Strokes, Dingwalls, 09.06.10

The Strokes’ first gig in four years saw Julian Casablancas, Nick Valensi, Albert Hammond, Jr., Nikolai Fraiture and Fabrizio Moretti make a truly triumphant return with an epic gig that literally was awe-some.

The buzz of excitement was palpable outside Dingwalls, on Wednesday 9 June, everyone knew that this venue was about to host one of the most epic comebacks in recent years and The Strokes certainly did not disappoint. Hundreds of fans descended on the central stableyard in Camden Market, of course, all 500 tickets had sold out within minutes the night before, but that didn’t stop plenty more fans from turning up, touting “Will sell kidneys for a ticket” signs, or simply hanging about in the hope of catching a glimpse of Casablancas et al.

The gig, their first since October 2006, was probably one of the worst kept secrets in recent musical history. Playing under the alias of Venison, The Strokes started posting hints on their website early Tuesday morning and before the day was up the news was all over the net, as fans geared up for the scramble of getting their hands on one of the limited tickets when they went on sale later that night.

The teeny venue was packed to the rafters with punters including the young, the old, and the famous—from where I was standing I could see most of Coldplay, including Chris Martin, and Radio 1’s Edith Bowman all enjoying a drink and the electric atmosphere.

Then, at exactly 9:30 the group sauntered on and opened with a stomping rendition of “NY City Cops”, to which the crowd immediately went mental and the raucous mood didn’t abate throughout the 18-song set. The hits kept coming, the band clearly not afraid of giving the throng of fans exactly what they wanted with a fairly even spread of favourites from all three albums. By the time the group got round to playing first major single, the amazing “Last Night”, Casablancas was all but drowned out by the holler of the crowd who definitely made up for in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers.

Casablancas was sparing with banter inbetween songs but was obviously enjoying the adoration, saying: “This is our first show in like four years, this is crazy—this is too much.” And even though it felt like a million degrees in there and the sweat was not only clearly visible on the members of the band and audience but was also forming a sweaty cloud of mist above the crowd, settling on the ceiling and dripping from the lighting rigs, until eventually the sound guys threw towels over the mixing desk, Casablancas kept his trademark leather firmly on along with big black shades, proving he operates on whole new levels of cool.

The singer also had words for some of the slightly jumpy security staff, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen, it’s feeling weird”, he said, “Are you trying to make a human barricade? I don’t think you need to, the kids are cool!”—cue a massive cheer from the ecstatic crowd.

After the gig ended—the same way the band ended their super-hyped debut album—with the now indie rock standard “Take It or Leave It”, heartfelt phrases such as “life changing” were being banded around outside and everyone who was lucky enough to have got tickets went home that night realising they had just witnessed something really special.

Published over at Strangers in Stereo, over here.

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