Who: The Strypes
Where: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
When: 22nd July 2014
It was great to see the Northcote Social Club packed out on a Tuesday night, especially as it was one of the nippiest nights that had befallen Melbourne all winter. However all those in attendance would have felt their innards warm up rather considerably, as they bore witness to one hell of a barnstorming performance from Ireland’s latest exports to these shores, The Strypes.
Before Cavan’s finest purveyors of rock ‘n’ roll took to the stage, a decent sized crowd were treated to a short but sweet psyche infused set from Brisbane’s The Creases. The four piece didn’t seem all that much older than the headliners, and their brand of catchy, yet trippy and reverb laden tracks, mixed with energetic playing from guitarists Jarrod Mahon and Joe Agious, especially during “I Won’t Wait”, highlighted why infamous UK label Rough Trade, released it as the band’s debut single. The Creases came across as a tight knit unit, and bar some bass amp hiccups mid way through their set, they proved they’re a band capable of writing effortlessly snappy pop gems, such as “Do You Know Why” and “Static Lines”, the latter of which sounded slightly reminiscent of Liverpudlian indie disciples Shack.
The only thing that helped ease the near on 50 minute wait for The Strypes to enter the fray, was having seminal tracks by the likes of Stiff Little Fingers, The Specials, The Count Five and The Undertones being blasted out over the pa system. Thankfully due to there being such a wide parameter in the age department on show, quite a few of the older heads bopped along in unison!
Finally the parting of the dark curtain unveiled the baby faced four piece, who right from the off showed no intentions whatsoever of treading tentatively, during this their debut Australian show. They blasted through “What A Shame”, “She’s So Fine” and “I Can Tell”, all from debut album Snapshot, with enough gusto to ensure the gap between bands was instantly forgotten. It was a level of intensity that remained for the duration of their 75 minute set, as lead vocalist/harmonica Ross Farrelly, guitarist/vocalist Josh McClorey, bassist Peter O’Hanlon and drummer Evan Walsh, performed with such vigor and attitude, it belied their collective youthful exterior.
Having only released their debut full length only 10 months ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking these four young Irish devotees of the blues and 70’s pub-rock, would be short on songs to chose from. However this was never the case, as they pounded through tracks “I Don’t Wanna Know” and “Hard To Say No”, from this years 4 Track Mind ep, as well as a cover of Slim Harpo’s “Got Love If You Want It”, from their 2011 Young, Gifted & Blue ep. The latter track saw O’Hanlon show off his harmonica skills, where he looked like a man possessed, as he thrashed around the stage, dropping so low at times he was invisible to all bar the front row!
There was an evident swagger on show for the duration of the band’s performance too, as Farrelly’s downpat frontman demeanour, perfectly suited his vocal delivery and harmonica playing, the gum chewing McClorey was ever the lead guitarist, as he rallied the crowd into life and threw shapes a plenty, as he busted out slick and blues permeated guitar solos at every given opportunity, and finally the funk ridden bass lines of the manic O’Hanlon, sat perfectly alongside the incredible upbeat tempo of Walsh’s rather exquisite drumming.
The Strypes have been pigeon holed as torch bearers of the 60’s r’n’b lovers, yet tonight they threw in covers of The Cash’s “Brand New Cadillac” and The Specials’ “Concrete Jungle”, which as great and surprising as they were, unfortunately seemed to go over the heads of most of the attendees!
They finished up their main set with “Blue Collar Jane” and “Heart Of The City”, both of which were performed with emphatic rawness and bold attitude, while their rendition of Bo Diddley’s “You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover”, highlighted they aren’t afraid to also nod their heads to the forefathers of the blues.
They returned to the stage and bade farewell with a relatively poignantly timed version of the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” – original drummer Tommy Ramone only recently passed away – followed by a crunching interpretation of Richard Berry’s hit “Louie, Louie”. And with that they promptly left the stage, safe in the knowledge the next time they return to Melbourne, a larger venue will come a calling.
Set List: “What A Shame”, “So They Say”, “Brand New Cadillac” (Clash cover), “She’s So Fine”, “What The People Don’t See”, “I Don’t Wanna Know”, “I Can Tell”, “Smoke Stack Lightning” (New), “Angel Eyes”, “Ooh Poo Pa Hoo”, “Concrete Jungle” (The Specials cover), “Perfect Storm”, “Still Gonna Drive You Home”, “Hard To Say No”, “Mystery Man”, “Hometown Girls”, “Got Love If You Want It” (Slim Harpo cover), “Blue Collar Jane”, “You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” (Bo Diddley cover), “Heart Of The City” and “Rollin’ & Tumblin'”
Encore: “Rockaway Beach (The Ramones cover) and “Louie, Louie” (Richard Berry cover)