Liquid Room, Ebisu, Tokyo
9th October 2013
Sixties influenced rockers The Strypes play a sold out tour of Japan – Katie Clare goes along for Louder Than War
During the spring rainy season The Strypes tested the waters in Japan with a single Tokyo concert at Shibuya’s Club Quattro: a relatively small venue holding around 900. Announcement of the show and ticket sales occurred in relative parity and sold out instantly.The band appeared in popular magazines and on highly rated TV shows – it was clear that they’d piqued the interest of music fans, prior to having yet played a live show or releasing an album. Those who attended the first Japanese show were not disappointed – The Strypes delivered a forceful taster of ferociously high energy rhythm and blues that was received with feverishly animated fervour. It was only a question of how long till they returned to do a bona fide Japan tour – the wait thankfully has been short and an October tour was announced: again tickets sold out instantly and in response to the high demand a third night was added the Tokyo gigs.
Arriving at Ebisu’s Liquid Room the audience is a healthy mix of the under 25’s – as well as those that maybe, probably and definitely were present for R’n’Bs first time around the musical block. On paper this could so easily read like a novelty act: four young men, wearing the fashions of their grandparents while replicating the music of the 60’s and 70’s. Indeed they are clearly derivative of their influences something which they’ve certainly never hidden. They cover songs, that the front row of screaming girls and boys growing out their high school haircuts would probably never have given a listen too if they didn’t: so if nothing else they deserve credit for providing a dose of musical education. Not that they need it, they’re already holding gold stars: tonight’s twenty one track set of short, sharp, frenetic dynamism is yet more proof how they earned, and how much, those stars are deserved.
Opening up with ‘Mystery Man’ the band throw themselves head first into a powerful mix of harmony and pounding beats, they continue to zip along at a pace to a fittingly growled version of Dr Feelgood’s ‘I’m a Hog For You Baby’. Speaking to the audience Josh McClorey elicits a promise to dance and away we go ‘What The People Don’t See’ is delectably executed as the crowd increase the bouncing and through Cheshire Cat grins shout along as the band hurtle through a dynamic version of Jessie Hill’s ‘Ohh Poo Pah Doo’. The tracks speed by and while they’re the sounds of the past: there are little flecks of gritty urban punk flashing here and there: a mere morsel perhaps an appetizer of what might in the future come? This band are after all very much at the start of their creative lives.
There is vivacity and zest that is hard not to be dragged along with, certainly no one here is fighting the feel good vibes flooding the humid air. Guitarist and vocalist McClorey is clearly a born showman, his confident knowing smiles and winks to the audience are feasted upon with delight, he’s talented, endearing and the excitement he shows on stage is undoubtedly genuine and honest. A huge part of the bands strength comes from the rhythm section (Evan Walsh on drums and Pete O’Hanlon on bass/harmonica) they are the secure core of the band: allowing their vocalist (who’s tightened up his stage conviction enormously since April) Ross Farrelly his occasional nerves – a glimpse at the bands youth and humanness which is both charming and intriguing.
As are their original songs in the set, most notably ‘Blue Collar Jane’ a spot on explosion of adolescent craving, it’s not reinventing rhythm and blues but it’s lighting a firecracker under the genre’s collective jacksie for sure. Not only did the band give a warm shout out to John Lennon on this his birthday (he’d have been 73 today), they also dedicated an adorable rendition of ‘Bad Boy’ to his memory: and showing an excellent wry sense of humor as they sing without a flinch “Now junior, behave yourself”. The evening’s perkiest highlight, the traditional blues song of an unfaithful lover, ‘C C Rider’ The Strypes giving the track a fresh nuance. The song exploding with uninhibited craving, effervesce and vigor like they’d taken the top off a shook bottle of soda.
Returning to the stage for a two track encore the band do a great job whipping everyone up again with a crowd pleasing ‘Route 66’.
If you get the chance see them live, don’t hesitate: you’ll be seeing a talented band delivering with audacity and expertise what’s best described as a bloody great time.
The Strypes debut album ‘Snapshot’ (CD/DL/LP) is available now via all the usual retailers the band will be on tour supporting the Arctic Monkeys UK and European tour in October and November. You can keep up to date with releases, gigs and news via The Strypes official website, Facebook and Twitter.