Sunday, 13 June 2010
Last Nite - The Strokes at IOW Festival 2010
Wow. I mean, where to begin? Perhaps telling you my facebook status might help me get started - "Tara is covered in bruises, aches all over, is losing her voice, and is in a happy daze which isn't conducive to revision. But for you, Julian 'Just kidding!' Casablancas and co., it was fully worth it. The Strokes live = better than a dream come true." My friend thought this amount of gushing love for a band was "cringe", but that's because he's not a Strokes fan and he doesn't understand.
The beautiful lyrics from 'Red Light' - "then I saw your face, and I heard that song; it was so inviting it hurt my bones" kind of sum it up - that ecstasy as soon as they stepped onto the stage after that incredible anticipation of Queen's 'We Will Rock You' (nice touch) and also help to explain the achiness in my bones.
When you love a band this much and you've never seen them live before, it is of course gonna be amazing, but it was even better than I could have hoped for. The amount they themselves were enjoying it, the amount the crowd were enjoying it - that kind of atmosphere is always incredible. "Shit man. This is amazing. I guess we'll just have to take another 4 year break so we get a reaction like this again....Just kidding!" Drawled Julian with a grin on his face, in that effortlessly cool voice that sounds even better in person, because he's actually there right in front of you and oh my gosh he's so wonderful, and wow they're all actually amazing.
Indeed, throughout the night he made little jokes like that and it was amazing. When Fab started the beat for 'Hard to Explain' at the same time as Jules started saying "Isle of Wighteee", causing the drummer to stop, Julian sighed melodramatically, saying "Don't mind me, Fab! I just wanted to talk man, but you keep going", then explaining to the audience, "I was just talking over Fab's shit, sorry man...It's just there's all these people, how you doing? What's up man? Right, 'Hard To Explain'."
Singing "Isle of Wighteee" as well as swearing in disbelief at the crowd became a regular source of fun for Mr. Casablancas, who seemed in a euphoric mood which matched my own - you know at the beginning of 'NYC Cops' - "Ow...Haha - I meant ahhhhh. Hah. No, I didn't mean that at all. Ooo-ooo-ooh"? That was the kind of mood he was in. Everytime he said "I love you" my heart skipped multiple beats.
He hoped we were all having a great weekend, and commented on Blondie's amazing set before them, saying "Thanks for all the parts I stole from you. Just kidding!" He had some banter about the football causing the crowd to boo at England's disappointing lack of victory. He also got onto the topic of the girls at the IOW fest (obviously I was practically swooning by this point), after talking about how awesome England is and has been to them. "England how's it going? You guys are the best. It's good to be back. The girls, the women especially - wow - you English guys are lucky. You've got a really good crop going now. Albert here he's single, so if one you ladies plays your cards right, you might just get lucky tonight - just kidding! I kid, I kid... But I wasn't really kidding."
Another classic, "just kidding" came before 'Red Light' where he explained why he kept kidding - "Nah, I'm just kidding. And I'm kidding because I love, and I love because life is a joke... Just kidding." I can't tell if all these little details are interesting or not, because clearly to me every word he uttered was like the gospel, so sorry if this is really boring.
Julian's singing voice was perfection last night, as he crooned and the music itself was so tight it was unreal. Albert was just plain awesome he looked so happy and his playing was superb, Nikolai was his normal calm self, but there was definitely a smile playing around his lips, Nick was a full-on rock god, and although I couldn't see Fab as much, when the big screen showed him he looked like he was in the zone, and the beats he was playing were out of this world. They were just beautifully perfect.
The audience was fully enraptured, and just a glance around during any one of the songs reflected what was no doubt my own facial expression - disbelief, and a sort of enlightenment. When you saw the passion people were singing along with it proved just how much these songs and this band mean to people. Awesome. An amazing setlist which made me and everyone else stupidly happy - it's not often that every song a band plays gets a scream of excitement and recognition in the opening bars with everyone singing along as though their lives depended on it - (though I was also - paradoxically - really upset at what they didn't play - where were '12:51', 'Alone, Together', 'Trying Your Luck', 'Ize of the World'? I could go on - pretty much every other song they didn't play).
'New York City Cops' - everyone went mental after the excited wait, singing along with the riffs, with everything they could.
'The Modern Age' - thundering brilliance, the crowd even did the "wooooo"s. I loved the way he did the "do it just to please me"s.
'Hard To Explain' - Despite the false-start, Fab's drumming in this one was intense.
'Reptilia' - Nick, you absolute rock god.
'Whatever Happened' - the opening chords made everyone go wild, and it was just too good.
'You Only Live Once' - "let's see, let's see - what's next? Ah yeah, 'You Only Live Once'" - cue ear-piercing screams and the misguided but wonderful dance moves.
'Soma' - I'm really not sure I've ever been in a crowd this happy and excited - more singing along with just about every possible part of the song.
'Vision Of Division' - Albert's solo killed it, and from his cheeky grin I'd say he knew it. Amazing.
'I Can't Win' - the band really seemed to love this one, and Julian's crooning was other-wordly. He sang the "oh, I...can't... win" bit several times, it was lovely.
'Is This It' - the bass in this one really hit you right in the gut - wonderful from Nikolai.
'Someday' - The crowd was truly euphoric. The lighting was playing various retro games, like pong and tetris and pacman - was awesome.
'Red Light' - Nikolai's bass-playing was incredible in this one, and everyone was loving raising their hands as they sang "can't you see the sky is not the limit no more?".
'Last Nite' - fairly certain even the one person in the crowd who'd been dragged along unwillingly must have loved this one. Incredible singalong from everyone, and Albert's solo was fantastic as ever.
As they came back for the encore - "So yeah we're fucking playing again, doing this shit for you. Just kidding. We fucking love you." We love you too.
'Juicebox' - first moshpit. Ouch. I wasn't sure how Julian would handle the more intense vocals in this one, but he took it in his stride.
'Under Control' - Stunning. They did the beginning with just vocals and guitars, then eventually the drums came in. "We used to play these songs in empty bars and now...shit, man."
'Heart In A Cage' - The amount of people raising their left hand with passion at the relevant moment ("left, left, left") was awesome. The passion the band put in was really evident.
'Take It Or Leave It' - the final thank yous made it clear that this was gonna be the last one, so everyone - band and audience - really made the most of it. An excellent finish to an excellent set.
Julian said one last thank you to the amazing crowd, saying "see you soon" which he no doubt will because now I've seen them once it is necessary to see them again, and again and etc.. Once is really not enough, but it was definitely an incredibly satisfying start.
Fab then threw his drumsticks into the audience, and after their set made some crazy distorted noises like a rocket had landed, the lights went out and we knew it was over. Everyone walked away with goofy grins on their faces and someone was singing 'Someday', in a blissful sort of way.
Already it feels so surreal, so much like it was a dream - probably, if not definitely, the best gig of my life. Bring on Paul McCartney tonight.
And if I wasn't already aware of it, last night really cemented the fact that I love The Strokes.
Photos from, and with many thanks to, She's Fixing Her Hair , I will get my own developed and uploaded as soon as I can.