The Sugarmill took feeling like you’re in a sauna to a new level on Wednesday night; there was actually steam coming out of the doors! While the venue was boiling, The Strypes were impeccably cool leading up to their sell out Midlands gig. Telling local bands on Twitter, from the already burgeoning Stoke on Trent music scene, to bring demos to the venue so they could have a listen, The Strypes have what seems to be lacking in modern music, genuine honest passion for new music. At 16 these 4 Irish lads look like they’ve hit the nail on the head.
Having left it too late to get a ticket for one of their two gigs at Leaf in Liverpool a few months ago, as soon as tickets went on sale for the Sugarmill I jumped right on it.
Support came from The Clique who, although having won the tussle amongst local bands for the support slot, didn’t seem to be able to conjure up enough energy to excite the already buzzing crowd. Their emo/post-hardcore sound didn’t really seem in fitting with the night; it would have been a great opportunity for one of Stoke’s new bands to play to a crowd who appreciates their sound. Unfortunately for The Clique, their music wasn’t enough to keep a lot of the crowd inside, many people staying on the roof to keep cool before the headliners came on.
When The Strypes come out they plunge into a set of R&B covers and throw in a few originals; Bo Diddley’s ‘You Can’t Judge a Book By The Cover’ is given an up-tempo makeover, with The Strypes songwriting skills also being given a platform with ‘Blue Collar Jane’ and ‘Young, Gifted and Blue’ inspiring an impressive singalong given how new the band actually are.
Frontman Ross Ferrely thrashes around the stage like the clone of a young Jagger, with a harmonica and tambourine to go with his shades and attitude. All 4 are dressed flawlessly, with haircuts and raw, straightforward passion carrying them effortlessly through their hour long set. What is striking is how casual they are, and shockingly for bands at the moment, they look like they’re having fun. Even the most stubborn members of the crowd would not be able to deny how exciting the atmosphere is.
I set myself a challenge to write this review without referencing The Beatles or Stones, but it’s just not possible. It would be easy to accuse them of trying to replicate 60s bands, but ironically, that’s why The Strypes seem so original. They have taken away all the complications of trying to find the ‘new sound’ or using homemade instruments, and even, to a point trying too hard to be unique.
They’ve stripped it back to a tried and tested format of guitar, bass, drums and singer. It worked for the most successful bands in history and here it seems that simplicity has genuinely paid off again. I don’t know whether I’m still wrapped up in the excitement of the gig, but The Strypes seem to be able to take something that has been done so many times before and make it seem fresh and new. The closest most of the people at the gig will have got to seeing the Rolling Stones back in the day or the Beatles before is on BBC3 documentaries or grainy YouTube videos. What is fascinating about The Strypes is that they seem to have been able to give people from a generation of churned out pop repetition and the garish neon lights of ‘talent shows’ a taste of what they have only seen from a distance; unpretentious and rare passion.
I am glad I have got to see this band at this point in their musical career, before the adoring females and record companies take over. I’m not sure about the staying power of the band. It would be easy to say they are headed for ‘big things’ or that they will get the much sought after rock and roll ‘fame and fortune’. I wonder whether there would even be a wide enough market to support this. More importantly