The Struts Brought Magic to The Pageant Last Week
Late November, I spoke with Luke Spiller of the The Struts about his upcoming show at The Pageant on Dec. 7. At that point, neither one of us knew how big the show was going to be. Long lines of people stretched down Delmar waiting to enter the concert venue. Surrounding restaurants were full of people grabbing a pre-show bite to eat. Later announced, this was a sold-out show.
The event was brought on by 105.7 The Point as a series of holiday concerts called “Ho Ho Shows.” The lineup included Highly Suspect (who had just been nominated for two Grammys earlier in the night), The Struts and Greek Fire—a St. Louis-based band started by members of Story of the Year. All three of the bands had great energy, light shows and sound, but The Struts were definitely the stand out.
The energy didn’t stop from the time The Struts took the stage to the time they exited—Spiller working the crowd the whole time. “Hello, St. Louis!” he shouted in his British accent, demanding a louder roar from the crowd before the band kicked off the night. Immediately the crowd was hands up, clapping along above their heads.
Spiller hardly stayed in one spot for more than a couple seconds, gesticulating with his hands and donning a full on sequin shirt and pant. A friend later told me that a KSHE DJ referred to him as Dr. Frank-N-Furter from Rocky Horror Picture Show—and hit the nail on the head. Spiller is often compared to the likes of Freddy Mercury or Keith Richards (both complete compliments), but he still keeps it fresh. He draws on the theatrics of their performances but gives it a little more.
The band pulled out their hit single, “Could Have Been Me,” second in the set. It surprised me to see they weren’t saving it for the end. The crowd certainly knew how to sing along to this one. Spiller asked “Do you want to play with me?” He was very playful with the audience and spent a good bit of stage time taunting them with questions. The band often took instrumental breaks with drummer Gethin Davies tapping on the rim or the high hat, keeping suspense.
“Do you want to kiss this?” Spiller asked, turning around to reference his sequin-smothered behind, before getting into “Kiss This.” Guitarist Adam Slack worked the crowd just as well, taking a hard rights on stage, standing on the monitor in front of him and nearly stepping on photographer’s hands in the photo pit.
Spiller let out a bloodcurdling scream that somehow landed on pitch before letting the audience know, “it’s good to be back in St. Louis.” The last time The Struts came through they headlined The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, nearly a month prior.
Spiller exited the stage while his band kept up momentum. He came back wearing a cape—typical of Spiller’s costume choice—and inviting different sections of the room to a cheer-off—“you over there at the bar!” and “let me hear this side now!” The whole band froze in place as Spiller continued to call to the audience, owning the entire stage, ending the session in a dramatic pose. Then he let St. Louis know, “you will be releasing our debut album next year in March, cheers!” The crowd went wild.
Before starting “Put Your Money On Me,” Spiller directed the audience to shout “Oh yeah” between lines—“I bet your body’s so sweet … Oh yeah!” Slack soloed on the far right side of the stage. Spiller stood center and worked the cape like a gothic butterfly. “Would St. Louis like to meet the rest of The Struts?” he asked, while the volume of the room crescendoed. He introduced Elliott, Davies then Slack. My favorite part of the show—“and now to my L-L-L-L-L right” as he introduced Slack. Spiller knows how to entertain.
Spiller often would rhyme as he talked to the crowd saying things like “Are you having a good time? Are you feeling fine?” He has that spectacular star quality that a frontman needs to create such a beautifully performed show. Another thing to note about their performance is the live harmonies. They sounded great and really filled out the songs.
To end the show, Slack and Elliott faced the drum while Davies went into a loud solo, Spiller in a jumping jack stance. Like a mad magician, Spiller extended an arm back and forth between Davies and the crowd. The crowd screamed as Spiller reached out toward them, fingers waving. Davies brought back the beat each time Spiller returned with his magic fingers. This little dramatic skit proved that The Struts’ stagecraft can hang with the big names who they are so often compared to. One thing is for certain—The Struts definitely know how to go out with a bang.
All photos taken by Cara Wegener.