The Strypes LIVE @ 02 Academy, Islington 21.6.13

I was under the impression that I was going to be blown away by The Strypes. Everyone from Elton John to Noel Gallagher is positively tripping over themselves to sing the band’s praises. Yes, they are obviously talented, but I can’t shake the slightly uncomfortable feeling that I’m at a school gig drowning in a sea of proud 50-something parents.

Islington Academy is sold out for the second time today; the babyfaced R&B 4-piece from Cavan has already played a show exclusively for under 16’s. The industry is all excited; we’re talking huge commercial potential here. To the ears of teenyboppers this is brilliantly new, whilst nostalgic generation chasers are chomping at the bit for the somewhat familiar sounds of days gone by.

It’s refreshing at least that there’s some sort of alternative to Bieber Ebola, but let’s not get carried away here. Anyone proclaiming that we’ve unearthed the next Beatles should revisit Revolver before being shot with one.

It’s a bit dingy and sweaty tonight in the Academy; I’m flanked by denim clad old school rockers as a sucker punch of noise comes through the speakers. All floppy hair and unbounded energy, The Strypes thump through a set laced with classics from Dr Feelgood’s ‘She’s so Fine’ to Bo Diddley’s ‘You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover’.

Such youthful musicality – in sharp contrast to the produce coming out of the X-Factor factory – is most definitely novel and they’ve got those boyish good looks to rely on. But surely there has to be something else that sets them apart from a very good covers band?

I’m not saying they’re not a tight little outfit; Josh McClorey is an obviously very capable lead guitarist and throws himself about the stage as Evan Walsh keeps it tidy behind the kit. Ross Farrelly has a gritty enough vocal still it feels like he’s hiding behind those sunglasses; it’s all a bit try hard. Pete O’Hanlon is the most convincing, strutting about on bass assuredly and bounding up to Farrelly on the mic.

An album with acclaimed record producer Chris Thomas is in the works, and we’re treated to a smattering of original tracks sandwiched between those of the greats. They’re not bad – the melodies have legs – but you can certainly pick them out of the set list. Hometown Girls: “Can’t you give me a fix I’m lacking confidence / I reek of sweat and teenage innocence” is a pretty astute reflection of where they’re standing amongst the more mature and established sounds of their idols. But let’s remember that they’re 16; it’s a damn sight better than “I’m like baby baby baby, nooooo”.

With such huge advocates as Dave Grohl, Jeff Beck and Paul Weller, it’s hard to see how The Strypes can’t succeed. And who would take that away from them? They’re doing what they love without a hint of arrogance, any egotistical swaggering is just plain adorable at best. They’ll be popular alright, but what remains to be seen is whether they can grow into something truly special…and whether they can grow beards.

Sarah Griffin