Steve Beauchampé happened on The Strypes when they played The Slayed Rumz, Wolverhampton, last Thursday and believes they reclaim rock and roll for the talent-show generation.
We’ve waited a long time for a band like the Strypes to come along; since about 1965 in fact. But here they are, four teenagers from Cavan in the Irish Republic, a sort of Beatles/Stones/Yardbirds hybrid, fused with the raw sound of Dr Feelgood and the volume and trashing energy of punk, a noise denied their 1960s peers only by the shortcomings of amplification. Formed in 2011 and leaving school last summer, they’ve been gigging furiously ever since, often in venues where, aged just 16-17, they wouldn’t otherwise be old enough to gain admittance, building a following including admirers such as Paul Weller, Dave Grohl, Jools Holland and many in the UK’s music press.
And furiously is the word. From the moment they hit the stage, the Strypes crash into a frenzied mix of Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter covers, and with a few of their own songs thrown in. Their musical touchstones are impressive and their stage presence is undeniable. They’ve got the look (great shirts, sharp jackets, good haircuts) and the charisma while Josh McClorey (lead guitar/vocals) long ago worked out how he’d move around the stage and hold his guitar, throwing in some manic with Wilko Johnson-style stares for good measure. On the occasions when there’s more than a second-long gap between songs McClorey adds some McCartney-ish affable banter (“Hello Wolves, are you enjoying yerselves?”). Meanwhile. Pete O’Hanlon holds his bass high up to his chest ala Lennon and drummer Evan Walsh delivers foot tapping rhythm and pulsating beats. Sporting shades, lead singer Ross Farrelly really does look like a young Jagger; blowing ferociously into his harmonica, thrashing and shaking his tambourine, Farrelly’s distinctive vocals pour forth as the Strypes attack their chosen songs with an intensity that I’d defy any band to better.
For around an hour they blitz their way through a run of mainly covers, that include Mystery Man; I’m A Hog For You Baby; Oopa Doo; What A Shame; CC Rider and Got Love If You Want It (where Farelley, McClorey and O’Hanlon swap instruments), thus selecting a mix of genre classics and lesser known R&B numbers, a template that the Beatles and Stones would have understood and appreciated. Showing the Strypes own songwriting prowess, Angel Eyes and Blue Collar Jane also feature, before the classic Bo Diddley song You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover. To close, we get a scintillating version of Get Your Kicks On (Route 66).
It’s easy to dismiss the Strypes as imitators, mere revivalists, but it’s a false argument and a selfish reaction. Sure, their inspirations are clear, but they bring much that is fresh and invigorating to the table as they reclaim rock and roll for a generation whose tastes are usually shaped by TV ‘talent’ shows. The Stones are still rolling, but no one aged under of 60 ever saw them in small venues playing this kind of material, and to today’s youngsters (and those old enough to be their parents) the visceral excitement of the Strypes is every bit as valid and original. It’s their time and this is their band, but as tonight shows there’s an older element lapping it up too.
A decade ago Lincoln’s 22-20s looked like they might make 60s R&B popular again, but it never quite happened for them. It will for the Strypes though. Tickets for this sold out show cost a mere £6. Come the autumn, when their debut album (to be produced by the legendary Chris Thomas) is out and every cool kid has discovered them, expect to pay double that, while the yells and screams from the small coterie of female admirers will have got a lot louder. What happens subsequently, and whether there’s a great songwriting partnership waiting to blossom within the Strypes, only time will tell. But for now, just enjoy them for what they are.
The Strypes will be supporting the Arctic Monkeys at the LG Arena at the NEC on Thursday, October 31st. Tickets costing £39 and £28 are on sale from 9am Friday, July 4th. www.theticketfactory.com