Live Review

The Strokes, RockNess 2010

The band walk off looking no more dishevelled than when they walked on.

Given Julian Casablancas’s recent comment about The Strokes’ less-than-friendly feelings towards each other between ‘First Impressions of Earth’ and now, it’s difficult not to feel a little apprehensive before their big festival -closing comeback. Will Casablancas storm off stage in a cloud of leather and jet-black hair? Will each bandmate take it in turns to glower at each other? Or will they put on a victorious, exciting show? If you were hoping for the latter, you’d be correct.

In yet another nod to Queen (they’ve seemed endless this weekend- see accompanying RockNess reviews for evidence) the band struts out to ‘We Will Rock You’ - a rather bold statement for a band that haven’t toured for four years. Everyone’s fears are calmed, though, when ‘New York City Cops’ begins. The band play effortlessly, but they sound tighter than ever; its soaring chorus is perfect for the sense of fun that will encapsulate the set to come. Casablancas is a huge part of this party spirit, favouring playful banter over the cool, cryptic messages we’re used to hearing from him. One of his first comments references the USA World Cup team taking two points from England the night before, knowing that this Scottish crowd will respond rapturously. What a charmer, eh?

‘Is This It’ is played almost in its entirety, with ‘Hard To Explain’ coming third on the setlist. Fabrizio Moretti’s drumming leads the way, and Casablancas finally seems comfortable in his live singing voice- hitting the high notes like a pro. ‘Someday’ causes much hand-clapping and jittery dancing in the crowd, while ‘Last Nite’ is, predictably, the most well-received of the night. The band only plays four songs from most recent release ‘First Impressions Of Earth’; the best chance for guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr to show off their skills, but admittedly the worst for crowd atmosphere as they appear to be less well-known. The crowd even gets treated to a few bars of The Bangles’ ‘Eternal Flame’ during ‘Juicebox’, in a typical, bizarre-but-lovable move from Casablancas. ‘Reptilia’, though, is the song that reminds us why we love them so much; its urgency and infectious abilities making it sound even more like a modern classic in a live setting.

As Moretti throws his drumsticks out to the crowd and the band walk off looking no more dishevelled than they did when they walked on, it seems remarkable that this band are still the coolest men in music - no one has come close since 2001. And that, readers, is why - with a new album in place - they’ll surely be even cooler in 2011.

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