Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Strypes @ KOKO, London

2 October 2015

The Strypes

The Strypes

Though the eldest is barely 20, the Irish blues-rock quartet The Strypes are pretty seasoned musicians, having formed about five years ago. They’ve done a lot of growing up in that time, and their music has developed too. Their debut album Snapshot in 2013 was a remarkably authentic pastiche of ’60s rhythm and blues and ’70s pub rock à la The Yardbirds and Dr Feelgood. But the recent follow-up Little Victories has seen them move into a more contemporary indie-rock sound shaped by the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. They may wear their influences on their sleeves but their songwriting is maturing fast.

As a live band, The Strypes have already learned to deliver a tight performance, as their 80-minute show at a packed-out Koko proved. They rarely let up in a 20-song set in which they play most of their own songs as well as a few covers. Kicking off with a breathless account of Eighty-Four, the first half focuses on the new material, including the soulful A Good Night’s Sleep And A Cab Fare Home, the riff-heavy Now She’s Gone and a raucously rocking Queen Of The Half Crown. Then they return to their earlier, bluesier stuff such as Blue Collar Jane and the garage-punk Hometown Girls, all played with fizzing hormonal energy.

The band comes back on stage to play three cover songs as encores: MC5’s proto-punk Kick Out The Jams, a scorching version of country-blues artist Hambone Willie Newbern’s Rollin’ and Tumblin’, and to close Bo Diddley’s You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover where blues turns into rock’n’roll.

All-black-clad lead singer Ross Farrelly – the youngest in the group – is no longer wearing sunglasses, and seems a little unsure of being in the limelight as a rather shy front man, but his powerful voice, backed by some blues harmonica playing, is impressive. Guitarist Josh McClorey – the most casually dressed – is happy to step forward with some blazing solos and rasping feedback, while bassist Pete O’Hanlon and drummer Evan Walsh keep the beat going hard and fast.

There’s plenty of sweat flowing in the mosh pit too as the crowd match the energy burned up on stage, keen to join in the orchestrated hand-clapping and sing-along choruses. There’s a real mixture of the older and younger rubbing shoulders together, reflecting The Strypes’ broad appeal as classic guitar-music styles are reinvigorated for a new generation.

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More on The Strypes
The Strypes @ KOKO, London
The Strypes – Little Victories
The Strypes – Snapshot