The Strypes at The Social, London

'They're a safe bet to smash festival tents this summer'

Chris Eustace on 19 February 2021

“The indie One Direction”, “Miles Kane’s wedding band” – you know a new band is going places when the internet’s already sniping about them, but you can square that with the fact that The Social, where Cavan rock n’ roll wunderkinds The Strypes are opening up Huw Stephens’ excellent monthly night tonight, is heaving more than an hour before the door down to the stage opens.

Apparently there’s another venue-load of would-be punters left outside tonight, as the lucky earlycomers trade where they’ve seen them before, or which Youtube video is the best. All human life is here too, from those nearly young enough to be in the band, to old enough to have seen the bands the teenage quartet are covering. Industry fiends, swaggering mods of both Weller and Miles vintage, Tumblr addicts braving the withdrawal symptoms - they’re all here to see if they live up to the hype.

Yes, old blues and rock n’roll covers form a lot of their set, but no, it doesn’t look weird seeing 15-year-olds playing Bo Diddley. Not when these songs are re-energised with this kind of punk energy and youthful fearlessness – it’s how singer Ross Farrelly gets away with sporting shades throughout, and then suddenly acquiring a 30-years-of-whisky-rasp to holler along to Lieber & Stoller’s ‘I’m A Hog For You Baby’ and T-Bone Burnett’s ‘Stormy Monday’.

If you do have to suspend your disbelief at any point, it’s just to marvel at how well they can play – it’s as if they came out of the womb doing this, and given how old some of their Youtube clips are, they may well have done. Drummer Evan Walsh looks decidedly ill tonight, and still doesn’t miss a beat, but no-one’s just hanging around merely marvelling at the musicianship, as this is a band who clearly know that’s only half the deal, judging from bassist Pete O’Hanlon’s McCartney-in-electro-shock therapy moves, as Pete Doherty-alike guitarist Josh McClorey steps out into the melee, eyeballing the crowd as they sprint through Bo’s ‘I Can Tell’.

It’s another Bo Diddley song, ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’ that remains their calling card and the best-received number tonight, and the besuited foursome wring everything out of it, as the insistent riff builds and builds, as The Social struggles to make space to dance.

While there’s been plenty of “Beatles in Hamburg” comparisons flying around, it’s early Rolling Stones that their originals, such as the clanging, old school R’n’B of ‘Perfect Storm’ resemble most, but it’s here that you might have to strike a note of caution – while their own songs don’t make for a massively noticeable drop in amongst the covers, they don’t exactly assert themselves either, though they have more time than most to rectify this.

For now, they’re pure fun, and, already booked for Bestival, they’re a safe bet to smash festival tents the country over this summer. While there’s plenty of “back-to-basics” acts around currently, none of them have the sense of sheer joy that The Strypes bring to Central London tonight. Just make sure you get in to see for yourself.


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