This Little Story A Long Time Ago: The Eight Times I Saw The Strokes Live
Venison show, Dingwalls, 09 June 2009
I’ve written about this show quite a bit here and here but again I want to remember it because it’s a year since The Strokes made their comeback and this is the greatest gig I’ve been to (so far). Some of it quotes my previous review.
When word got out that the Strokes were planning a warm up show before their IOW show I had to go, the trouble is it seemed so did the whole of the UK. Thanks to the NME spreading the ‘secret’ info all over the net by the time the tickets for the 500 capacity Dingwalls gig went on sale on the Tuesday night half the internet in the UK crashed. Not joking seriously no matter how many times I and countless others tried the website crashed time and time again, I even think possibly Twitter overloaded as well and Dingwalls and the Strokes were trending all over the place.
I went to bed on the 8th June disappointed and annoyed by the ticket touts, by NME and by life.
A lot can change in 24 hours.
Twitter is a tool for random inane updates; Twitter is also a tool for fan campaigns.
Strokes fandom has had its ups and downs throughout the years, Strokes fandom is also full of some of the nicest kindest wonderful people I’ve ever had the pleasure to engage with.
So on that night across the pond a certain lady that many of you know as Janie and others basically started tweeting Richard Priest, Amanda De Cadenet et al asking them to get me a ticket for the show. As I always say I never expected anyone to do that for me, seriously I was so surprised to see it when I woke up the next morning but it really brightened my mood seeing just how lovely Strokes fans are.
I went to work as normal; due to shitty work net restriction I can’t access my yahoo mail. Just before I was leaving for the day though I saw a tweet from Richard (I wish I could find the original tweet but damn Twitter search) anyway it was something along the line of ‘check your email’
‘CHECK YOUR EMAIL’
I practically ran out of work and into the nearest Internet cafe, logged into my account with shaking hands and saw this email from Richard
Hi - in case a single spare ticket materializes (which I won’t know for a while) today and we could leave one for you on the door at Dingwalls - what’s your name? (You’ll need I.D. to get it so it has to be your own name).
Your friends on Twitter are effective lobbyists….
That last line is the understatement of the century haha <3
So I freaked out, typed the calmest sanest email I could and then rushed home (rushing home involves like an hour journey) got changed, picked up some ID printed out Richard’s email. Spent the entire journey to the venue freaking out more.
Because oh my fucking god I was going to see The Strokes, I was going to see them play their first show since October 2006, I was going to live through that fucking experience. To this day I don’t know how I legitimately did not faint.
Outside the venue everyone was hyped, inside it was cramped, I mentioned in my original review how sweat poured from the ceiling and off Nick and off every one in that crowd. You know how I just said I don’t know how I didn’t faint? Honestly I don’t know how Julian didn’t! Leather fucking jacket in that heat, the man is a camel or something.
I’ve spoken about how I started crying during the show and I genuinely mean it I was sobbing and smiling and singing throughout. I was dancing as much as I could in the small space. I was absorbing every detail, every lyric, every note, every moment between the band.
There were no new songs but really it wasn’t needed not when they kicked off with New York City Cops then powered through into The Modern Age and Hard to Explain. Yes this band were so confident they started off with 3 of their greatest songs and the night still got better. It’s hard to even say which was the biggest crowd pleaser, everyone was jumping around, there was spontaneous dancing to Someday, moshing to Juicebox, sing-alongs to YOLO. The Strokes are also the only band I’ve seen live that don’t just have the crowd singing along with the lyrics but have everyone humming along with the guitar solos or the drum parts.
Personal highlight was Under Control, it was often absent during the FIOE tour but this gig marked its return and its pretty much a mainstay now and how damn beautiful it is. The way they play it now is just perfect. Never go away Under Control, never.
On stage Julian joked with the crowd, asking a fan if he can shake their hands he added ‘Is it clean?’. Nick looked more of a rock god than ever before, losing that hilarious tiger jacket pretty damn quickly due to the heat and playing a vest for the rest of the show. He pulled Rock God Guitarist facial expressions throughout, posing for cameras and generally looking like the love child of one Jimmy Page. He also pretty much collapsed on the amp during Albert’s solo in Vision of Division because of the heat (and still Julian stood wearing that leather jacket)
I couldn’t see a lot of the other members, saw that Albert was smoking during Under Control, tsk he is going to get fined for that but hey who cares he is a member of the god damn Strokes! Nikolai looked his usual quiet self which always makes me feel safe almost, I did what I always do and screamed out his name during Someday. Fab I literally saw his tiny self for two seconds.
After a storming Take It Or Leave It signalled the end of the show the lights went up at Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town blasted through the speakers, appropriate fucking choice of song because the boys were back.
Anyone that was a fan of the band during the hiatus knew how tough it was, so many times that the idea that the band would ever make a fourth record or play live again seemed like a foolish ridiculous impossible dream.
The thing is seeing them on stage, seeing the smiles; the closeness of that band is one of the reason I keep speaking out against the media portrayal of the band this year because its bullshit. Yes the guys have creative differences and personal issues but there is no way in hell they hate each other.
The love radiating from all five of them on the stage a year ago today is proof that deep down despite the angst over solo projects, the unfortunate use of interviews as unofficial group therapy they do fundamentally still love each other. The Strokes are not good enough actors to fake that.
It would take nine more months until we got the new album but this gig marked the start of that comeback.
The Strokes are still relevant, I firmly believe that whether people like Angles or not, when they are top of their game they are unstoppable. I know they like to play festivals but I wish they would play some proper venues instead - this show and the Madison Square Garden one (the footage looked amazing) are evidence that they can connect to their fans, to the crowd and not just a sea of people in a field.
I hope they remember this, I hope to see them again soon in a sweaty venue rather than a muddy field. I need this band to stay in my life for a long long time.
01 New York City Cops
02 The Modern Age
03 Hard To Explain
05 What Ever Happened?
06 You Only Live Once
08 Vision Of Division
09 I Can’t Win
10 Is This It
12 Red Light
13 Last Nite
14 Under Control
17 Heart In A Cage
18 Take It Or Leave It