The Strypes At The Academy – Review & Photos
Defunct noughties indie-punk Irish band The Revs once sang ‘Louis Walsh said rock & roll is dead’. Looking at the Top 40 charts over the past decade it seems that the Mayo-born pop Svengali may have had a point. In an age of soulless, disposable r’n’b and tabloid gossip fodder pop stars, many have wondered when and where the next generation of rock stars were going to emerge from? The unlikely answer seems to be from the rock ‘n’ roll hinterlands of ….County Cavan. Having first started playing in primary school, The Strypes were a breath of fresh air when they burst onto the scene back in 2011 playing a selection of retro blues rock covers with all the verve and panache of seasoned pros. Debut album Snapshot captured perfectly what they had been doing since their pre-teen years, with a smattering of impressive original material added to the mix. However, with a distinctly retro fashion sense to go with their throwback sound, there were always going to be accusations of novelty levelled at the band. Whilst somewhat justified, the group’s musical chops were simply too good for most to care. However, as everyone knows, novelty wears off quickly. Quicker still in the notoriously fickle music business.
Recently released second album, Little Victories, shot to the top of the Irish charts last week, with the quartet exhibiting a much developed sound. Whilst the blues influences remain intact, they have now been merged with a 00s indie rock sound. Kicking off the set in furious fashion, ‘Now She’s Gone’ and excellent early single ‘What A Shame’, the band start as they mean to go on, loud, brash, and locked incredibly tight together. While three quarters of the band stay true to their traditional dapper retro style, guitarist Josh McClorley looks like he’s either just come from a New York Yankees game or else just arrived offstage from playing with a nu-metal band, with his backwards baseball cap and t shirt combo. While frontman is often seen as an alternate term for singer, McClorley is the band’s true shining light. A truly gifted guitarist who looks certain to join Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore and The Edge in the pantheon of Irish guitar rock Gods. Three songs in and he mounts the stage monitors, turns his guitar around so it’s hanging from his back and breaks into a virtuosic solo without missing a note. Some may sneer at the show-off element but great rock & roll shows are built on such confidence.
‘Mystery Man’ gets a run through at breakneck speed before the Arctic Monkeys-esque riffery of ‘Eighty Four’ sends the crowd wild. Just as the show’s high energy threatens to become repetitive, the band break into sexed-up new single ‘A Good Night’s Sleep And A Cab Fare Home’. The influence of the Arctic Monkeys is again strong, ‘Tie your loose ends around my neck and pull me in, cause I’ve got nothing but a keen eye for you and a need to sin’, it highlights McClorleys lesser celebrated talent as a deft lyricist. ‘Get Into It’ gives bassist Peter O’Hanlon a chance to shine, with its chugging groove serving as the songs foundation. Singer Ross Farrelly exudes rock & roll cool and effortlessly pulls off the ‘sunglasses at night’ look, which gives him a commanding stage presence.
Finishing a terrific set with what may be Little Victories best song ‘I Need To Be Your Only’, it sounds like a turbo-charged version of Kasabian with some Roger Daltrey style screams thrown in for good measure. It caps off a towering performance which was everything a great rock show should be. The new material played tonight shows a band who are developing at a perfect pace without sacrificing what made them special in the first place. Just out of their teens, we can trust The Strypes to keep rock & roll’s flame burning for the next ten years and beyond.
Review by Gary O’Donnell
Photos by Anamaria Meiu