Music review: The Strypes, O2 Islington Academy, London
Monday 24 June 2013
You have to admire the brazenness of The Strypes’ solution to the problem of retromania; as critics worry that slavish aping of past form and a dearth of ideas are leading us to the death of popular music, these four Irish youngsters (all 15-17) casually rock up and attempt to reignite the whole process, going back to the mother lode of early blues and R&B (via their parents' record collection) to spark a second big bang.
Of course, it was never going to actually work, but what they do bring in the flesh is a far rawer excitement and edge than their recorded stuff so far might suggest.
Post The White Stripes, straight-faced Stones-style blues revival is never going to escape the naff stink of the bar band, and the only reason I’m writing this right now and not a review of Ken Sigsworth’s Blues Buckaroos down the Dog & Dirigible is on account of their age (and their boyband looks).
But that said, as a cover of Nick Lowe's "Heart Of The City" alongside all the Muddy Waters and standards such as CC Rider proves, these boys have punk spirit. Perhaps someone just needs to find a way to translate it onto wax cylinder.
Though the crowd is fairly heavy, as you might expect, with a certain breed of pot-bellied gent fresh from steering-wheel tapping class at the Clarksonian Insitute, the show is still a riotous good laugh and they have chops honed at a bajillion small gigs around Ireland - but they haven't yet got that something, that idea or twist that would allow them to reanimate such familiar forms – by about midway through, for all the youthful strutting, things do start to get tired.
But then, it'd be a bit more than a novelty if someone had managed to reach the stage of artistic development where they could refresh and reinvent a century-old genre at 17. Who's to say they might not have some shocks up their sleeve for the future?
There's something wonderfully, frankly gormless about the frenzied plaint of teen shyness in "Hometown Girls" ("Can’t you give me a fix I’m craving confidence/I smell of sweat and teenage innocence"), that if developed with that budding snarl could make them something more like a new Undertones than a new Stones. They just haven't earned their Strypes yet, baby.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
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