Review by JoJo Anthony
Photos by Joe Schaeffer
Attending a Struts concert can be the equivalency of attending an aerobics class. You will work up a sweat and be exhausted by the end of the performance. The British band are on tour in support of their four and current album Pretty Vicious as they performed for a sold-out show in Ventura, California.
The Struts are currently celebrating their tenth anniversary as a band and they are, in my opinion, one of the best live acts performing today. They have become a seasoned live act, and they give their audience their money’s worth.
Opening the set with “Dirty Sexy Money” from their 2016 debut album Everybody Wants, the audience was ready for the band. Lead vocalist Luke Spiller has the charisma of many of the great front men in rock n’ roll and immediately acknowledges his audience that wants to be entertained.
Alongside guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliot, and drummer Gethin Davies, the band continued with “Body Talks” from their sophomore effort Young And Dangerous released in 2018. The song featured a slightly different intro which I admired the band for mixing things up a bit.
Of course, the band would feature songs from Pretty Vicious like “Too Good at Raising Hell” and “Rockstar.” I, for one, was happy to hear “Kiss This” and my personal favorite “One Night Only.” The latter track has a definite classic Queen influence. The song could have been featured on a Queen album in the late 1970s.
Spiller and Slack slowed things down a bit and performed a duet of “Mary Go Round” from their debut album. The crowd joined in singing the song with Spiller as the conductor. The band returned to the stage and followed with the fan favorite “Primadonna Like Me.” Slack followed the song with a stand-up guitar solo. Unlike so many guitar solos, Slack did not concentrate on shredding the fret board but chose a slower blues approach. It was beautiful.
A few more tracks from Pretty Vicious like “I Won’t Run” and the title track would lead up to a fantastic performance of “Put Your Money On Me.” Spiller showcased his ability to reach an audience and entertain them. He has studied the greats like Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury when it comes to audience participation. He playfully commands the band’s fans to lose all inhibitions and just dance, sing, shout and have a good time. I haven’t seen a band entertain the crowd as well as the Struts in quite some time.
Closing their set with amazing “Could Have Been Me,” which was first song I ever heard from the band back in 2014. The Struts left the crowd pleased and exhausted. They have become a seasoned live act and should no longer be considered an up-and-coming band. They deserve to be playing in stadiums and larger arenas. Pretty Vicious showcases their musical growth and after a decade together I can only hope the band reaches superstar status.
I do want to mention the opening act Mac Saturn hailing from Detroit, Michigan. The six-piece band can only be described as “smooth.” They have a Rolling Stones vibe especially when the Stone were experimenting with a more Soul and dance influenced sound in the late 1970s. Lead vocalist Carson Macc has the swagger of a young Mick Jagger performing on The Ed Sullivan Show. His band mates Angelo Coppola on drums, guitarists Mike Moody and Nick Barone, bassist Jive Moses and keyboardist Evan Mercer have a distinct laid-back groove and are great players.
They have an album called Hard to Sell coming out January 2024. A handful of tracks are currently available for streaming. I highly recommend “Mr. Cadillac,” “Get On The Phone” and “Plain Clothes Gentleman.” These two bands have been touring the country together. If you get a chance, you must see this great double bill. It’s a true rock n’ roll show in the grandest tradition.