Strokes : Alexandra Palace: Saturday December 6
A stunning triumph saved from the snapping jaws of disapointment
Right. Now that's out of the way, let's talk legends. Because this isn't about trousers or ties or haircuts or A-list girlfriends or drug intakes or rich glamouratti parents or smouldering pretty boy eyebrows or any of that vapid tattle-rag nonsense. This is about greatness. Because, at first listen, 'Room On Fire' seems a lazy Xerox of its predecessor, the sound of a band bereft of ideas or vitality, gorging on as much cocaine, cocktails and hot celebrity rumpo action as they can get before the bubble bursts. But beneath the tinny garage clank lurked a svelte beast of subtle beauty at least an equal to 'Is This It?': the understated panache of 'You Talk Way Too Much', the almost complacent sugar-kiss of 'Under Control', the serrated blade fight that is 'Automatic Stop'. When sprinkled between first album classics like 'Last Nite' and 'The Modern Age', they merge into a staggering Greatest Hits set by the pupea of a band destined for David Bowie-esque Godhead status.
Unfortunately, Alexandra Palace proves to be Strokes metaphorical Shea Stadium - they're all but swamped by the place. Opening with their only ballad 'Under Control' and a slew of mid-paced new album tracks doesn't help matters, and nor does their obvious mid-tour complacency - it takes a sound failure during 'Reptilia' to turn it and Joe Strummer tribute in the form of a weedy run through Clash 'Clampdown' that's about as 'punk' as a Tory conference and a duet with a singer called Regina which hints at a new female-fronted prog soul direction and is probably called She Wrote This!' - The Strokes claw the night back around to the London-quaking E.V.E.N.T. it should have been by tearing strips out of the arses of 'Someday', '12:51' and 'Take It Or Leave It'.
For a second there it seemed Year Zero might have ground to a halt. Turned out to be a leap year.
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