Finally I could see The Strokes live on the only German date of their European tour. Sadly I missed their concert last year when they even had Stereo Total as their support band and played in a smaller venue. This time they played a huge warehouse-kind of building called 'Arena' which apparently takes 7000 people. It's a nice venue because it doesn't look its size but is still very high – meaning there's enough air around to breathe.
Po told me about the Strokes' gig in Belfast a fortnight ago which was very good, so anticipation was even higher than it would have been anyway. In the UK, they had British Sea Power as a support band which I would have liked to see as well. Unfortunately they didn't come over here but there was a one-person craptacular singer going by the name of Har Mar Superstar, which looked truly horrible and a disgrace for the occasion on his website – and sadly lived up to the horrid expectations. I wonder who thought that he would be a good 'special guest'.
After his performance ended, Jean and me sneaked our way through the crowds and reached quite a good place, perhaps ten metres from the stage. Unfortunately they needed ages to set up the stage and tune the guitars, so Jean decided he'd rather stand at the back where it was less crowded and not as hot. I really do wonder why those roadies have to tune the guitars on stage while everybody is waiting and why – despite supposedly being professionals – they aren't too good at getting all the cable connections right the first time around.
Anyway, the long wait paid and the band eventually did come on stage. The first thing I thought, when seeing them is that the key point of their job description is 'cool' – a fact that I easily forget when only listening to their music (or anything than the first tracks of their records at least). Shirts, 60s jackets, ties, sunglasses – looking a bit Beatles-esque and a bit punk-ish, but not quite [apologies for the pretentious crap]. No jumping on stage, but disciplined and good making music. Just a half-assed, superfluous and somewhat embarrassing attempt to mimic the destruction of some on-stage kit at the very end.
Right when they started and the crowd started moving, the general movement brought me even further to the front right at the middle of the stage. That was good luck. I was just far enough to the back to not be squashed too much by the people. It was also reassuring to be surrounded by so many people enjoying the music – making quite a difference to the usual 'The Who?!' expression I see in people when mentioning The Strokes – and that's without any reference to the band going by that name of course.
I'm not good at remembering setlists, but considering their not-too-extensive repertoire and guessing that the time they were on stage was a bit less than an hour, they played most of it, both of the Is This It and the Room on Fire albums. I seem to remember a lack of Is this it and Between Love and Hate, though. On the other hand, they did play enough songs to exhaust everyone sufficiently and while I definitely would have enjoyed something new or a cool cover version for an encore, I wasn't too sad they didn't do any.
Finally I have to remark that while the playing was good, it was also apparent that The Strokes operate on more than just a shoestring budget by now, with a lot of shiny lights and equipment working for the band. Another nice fact was that while the music was reasonably loud, I never found it too be too loud – the kind of loud that makes your ears beep afterwards – thus making it an even more pleasing experience.
Hey! i just recently went to a Strokes show (May 4th @ Jilians Louisville) and it was a blast. i had front row right in front of Julian! it was so great, i brought three cameras with me so i wouldnt leave empty handed. it turns out at the end of the show i was walking through the bar to leave to my car and i saw all 5 strokes standing there all sweaty from playing! i about passed out. I forgot my strokes CD’s out in my car so i didnt have anything for them to sign so Julian reached in his pocket and pulled out his cig pack and all of them signed it for me! it was like the greatest thing that has ever happend to me. i mean wow. The concert was very great. But the could of played more songs if you ask me because for some reason it seemed kind of short. i was like “don’t you have any more songs?” LOL. but it was great, especially front row when he falls ON you, and i got to hold his hand. wow, it was great. thanks..Aimee Sunshine
Hey, i think i have an answer to your Har Mar Person, I think he is a friend to the strokes because on their website there is pictures and video’s of him with julian. I have never been to a show as they have never come to my city (In Canada) They seem to skip the province and go from Vancouver and then to Ontario.