Live Review

Reading 2011: The Strokes, Main Stage

If bill toppers are supposed to ignite the passions, the New Yorkers have a headache.

Photo Credit: Brian Rasic / REX Features

When you book The Strokes to headline your festival, you’re taking a risk. Certainly when it comes to the 2011 vintage, anyway. If bill toppers are supposed to ignite the passions, sadly it seems the New Yorkers have a headache. Maybe tomorrow night, eh?

Indeed, when following a set of such arch-brilliance that Pulp successfully signed up a new generation of fans to the sleeze-pop fan club, the fact Julian Casablancas’ dysfunctional mob seem happy to largely go through the motions seems almost criminal.

A band who, ten years ago, released an album that genuinely excited the senses should never be accused of box ticking, but across the Summer it’s a charge that’s been levelled more than once. When they’re good, The Strokes still have something - both ‘Is This It’ and ‘New York City Cops’ are songs with few peers - but the new material simply doesn’t match up. ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ is by no means awful, but followed by ‘The Modern Age’ it’s virtually impossible not to yearn for the band who picked up 2001 by the collar and gave it a good old shakedown.

Indeed, it says something that an appearance from Jarvis Cocker provides the set’s highlight. Covering The Cars’ ‘Just What I Needed’, it’s somewhat fitting that - even despite the billing - tonight Pulp headline Reading from second top of the bill. The curious case of just what is going on with The Strokes, somewhat poetically, remains ‘Hard To Explain’.

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