The teenaged smart-suited boys onstage are tearing up the tiny stage with their maximum RnB sounds. Guitar, harmonica, bass, drums, no nonsense. Nods to the old blues masters and the crowd are dancing.
The Rolling Stones in The Station Hotel, Richmond c1963?
Dr Feelgood‘s pub rock at The Half Moon in Putney 1974?
It’s The Strypes at Rough Trade East 2013. That’s nearly forty years after Wilko and Dr Feelgood laid the groundwork for punk and fifty since The Rolling Stones began ducking out of the way of the underwear their fans threw onstage…
If you are a Wikipedia-dodger, then here’s the low-down on The Strypes:
- A four piece band from Cavan, Ireland all less than 17 years old. That means none of them were alive when Oasis released “What’s The Story (Morning Glory)”, damn them.
- If they were any younger they’d have to call themselves “The Embryos”.
- Line up consists of guitarist Josh McLorey (“plays almost as fast as he chews gum”), bassist Pete O’Hanlon, (“the ace on the bass”) singer and harmonica player Ross Farrelly (“makes Liam Gallagher look like a Mancunian poseur”) and drummer Evan Walsh (“drums as mad as his hair”). The band made their debut, with a slightly different line up, at a primary school Christmas concert. It’s not recorded who played Mary and who played Joseph.
- Released an EP of covers in April 2012 which hit #1 on the iTunes Blues chart, much to everyone’s surprise.
- The interest created by this resulted in their signing to Sir Elton John‘s Rocket Music Management and to Mercury Records in December 2012. Sir Elton says of them, “They have a knowledge of R&B and blues at 16 years of age that I have only amassed in my 65 years. They’re just like a breath of fresh air.” That’s the power of YouTube, Elton.
- The Strypes boast several celebrity admirers including Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Dave Grohl and Jeff Beck.
- Appeared on Later…With Jools Holland in April 2013. In August they appeared onstage in Canvey Island with former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson. Words to be mentioned include: “Torch” and “Passing”.
- Debut album “Snapshot” released Monday 9th September, produced by Sex Pistols producer Chris Thomas.
- Lined up to support The Arctic Monkeys on their autumn tour of the UK and Germany.
Playing at Rough Trade East last night it was easy to see why they have quickly built themselves a following. These kids can play.
It’s a curious thing to see the living embodiment of the younger Stones whilst the older version is still around. The Stones were innovators. The pub rock revival of the seventies was a grass roots reaction to the way rock had er, progressed with more grandiose records. But The Strypes are neither innovators nor the forefront of a new musical movement. So to enjoy them, you have to leave a certain amount of cynicism behind at the door. If anything, they feel like a reaction to X-Factor culture, and it’s no bad thing that many of their followers are as young as the band themselves, seeking out something more than badly sung cover versions of last year’s hit records. (The Strypes have cleverly nailed that one by playing well sung cover versions of 1954’s hit records).
The front three rows last night were noticeably diminutive and youthful. That’s good. Not only are they bringing Rhythm and Blues to a new audience, the rest of us don’t have to crane our necks to get a good view.
What makes The Strypes more than an X-Factor tribute band is a) the quality of the musicianship (seriously – the bass player is all over his instrument like a tramp on chips and with a skill beyond his tender years) and b) the energy of the record and their live show. They may not have the gravitas to convey some of the subtleties of those wry old bluesmen, but they can blast the tunes out with a pomp that is infectious.
The Strypes blazed through a good proportion of their debut album, including a cover of “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” and originals including “Blue Collar Jane” and “Mystery Man”. They were ace.
Leave your preconceptions, cynicism and doubts behind. I don’t know why a bunch of sixteen year old kids are dressed like Carnaby Street Stones and playing RnB tunes. I am assuming there’s not some dreadful Louis Walsh type figure pulling strings behind them all. They don’t need one as they are talented enough. Their debut album rocks beautifully and they can absolutely cut it live. Catch them if you can.
The Strypes will be supporting The Arctic Monkeys on their forthcoming tour. Album “Snapshot” is out now.
Record #233: The Strypes – Blue Collar Jane