The Strokes - Shaky Knees Festival, Atlanta
Their first show of a busy summer sees Julian, Albert and co on killer form
Striding out to greet a 30,000-strong crowd, The Strokes look ready to tear hearts and eardrums apart. It’stheir first gig of 2015, and their first since Julian Casablancas revealed they were planning to record new material in a recent interview. Tonight, at Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Festival, he stands centre-stage sporting painted-on ripped jeans and a dirty mullet.
A blistering version of ‘Reptilia’ ignites a blitzkrieg of hits. ‘Welcome To Japan’ and ‘Barely Legal’ fly by, the band barely pausing for breath between them. After a punchy version of ‘Automatic Stop’ from 2003’s Room On Fire, Casablancas quips, “What does Shaky Knees mean anyway?” As the crowd drink in his first interaction, he growls, “Right, we’re doing it. In the unofficial capital of the South.” It comes off like a come-hither threat.
They tear into a setlist that reads like a Christmas wishlist for any hardcore Strokes fan. There’s a stomping live debut for ‘All The Time’, from their last record ‘Comedown Machine’. ‘You Talk Way Too Much’ – which they’ve not played since 2004 – is also dusted off.
There are no new songs, but that’s difficult to gripe about when you’re being beaten in the chest with classics like ‘Someday’ and ‘Under Control’, which comes with the added bonus of a cameo from Mac DeMarco, who rushes around the stage hugging the band. The 25-year-old Canadian pops out from the wings again as the band buzz through an exhilarating ‘Last Nite’, but his appearance is a mere sideshow. Tonight is all about The Strokes. Guitarist Nick Valensi’s signature riffs entwine tightly with Fabrizio Moretti’s urgent drums on ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’ and the seismic ‘Take It Or Leave It’, before a closing barrage of ‘Is This It’, ‘Hard To Explain’ and ‘New York City Cops’ completes a brilliant comeback.
The Strokes sound as tight as they ever have, and they depart leaving a sense of excitement and occasion hanging in the air that suggests they might just be recapturing the old magic. Hyde Park take note, The Strokes are coming.