Why We Need The Strokes Back

Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel sounds like a very Strokes kind of place. In my mind it’s an off-the-beaten-track, slightly rundown establishment where the locals don’t take too kindly to strangers.

In reality, of course, the Providence, Rhode Island hall is a pretty hip downtown venue. Still, it’s exactly where you’d have expected The Strokes to have played their last ever gig, on October 9, 2006.

That is, until now. Today Julian, Nick, Nikolia, Fab and Albert Jr are set to break their four-year duck and play their first show since touring ‘First Impressions Of Earth’.

Originally the big comeback was pencilled in for Saturday (June 12) at the Isle Of Wight Festival, with the band coming out of nowhere to headline with their fellow New Yorker, Jay-Z.

However, in an echo of their earliest gigs (when they first appeared in 2001 they caused people to pay over 200 quid for touted tickets to their London Heaven show), the band are causing chaos with a string of hints on Twitter that they’ll be playing at London’s Dingwalls on Wednesday night (June 9) under the name Venison. I must confess, even a music hack like me is panicking about whether or not I can get in.

Why am I so excited? Julian Casablancas might have joked that they were playing festivals this summer purely for the cash, but he knows that, live, the likes of ‘Last Nite’, ‘Reptilia’ or ‘Heart In A Cage’ possess a unique internal energy that makes them impossible to play without passion and edge.

It’s why they proved so revolutionary when they first exploded into our record collections. As a gang The Strokes were laid back to the point of comatose, but the music was a clarion call that caused the generation that followed them to pick up guitars (and blazers and Converse trainers) again.

That’s why I’m not worried about this comeback. Sure, the band have been on hiatus but they’ve not been idle. In the meantime we’ve had solo records from Julian, Nickle Eye and Albert Hammond Jr, Fab released an excellent first album with Little Joy, while Nick – the quiet Stroke – kept the creative juices going with a spot of photography and a guest spot on Sia’s latest album.

And I think with all that activity, when they get onstage together as a band, it’s inevitable that The Strokes will pulse with that some edgy energy of old.

And frankly this is a comeback we need. The Strokes might have made NME’s album of the decade with ‘Is This It’, but it feels like they have unfinished business.

When I edited the issue of NME that celebrated the band’s tenth birthday back in 2008 (they formed in 1998) there was one thing we got from nearly everyone we spoke to – the band, their friends, the management, their famous fans: this was a band with so much more to come creatively.

They’ve had a four year break, but let’s hope once they get up onstage tonight and at the weekend, that the “Boys Of The Summer” (as Julian christened them on Twitter recently) will become the Boys For The Future.

It’s been a great start from The Strokes, but it’s going to be even more interesting to see what they do next, because if there’s one band on the planet who are qualified to follow up ‘Is This It’, it’s a certain five-piece from the Lower East Side. Oh and if anyone has a spare ticket for Dingwalls…

The Stokes