After catching the end of what seemed a very on form Pulp, I awaited one of my favourite bands of the weekend, The Strokes. I waited the expected 20 minutes for the band to start but they were late to come on stage. I managed to keep myself entertained by having some interesting conversations with the people around me but as time went on it occurred to me that The Strokes were going to turn up a little late. Which would probably mean they’d be more than a little drunk. I was a little bit anxious to see if they would be able to pull it off.
All my worries were blown away when they came out to a loud cheer and played ‘Is This It’, which was surprisingly well received as the crowd were singing along to the majority of words. They then kicked up the tempo with one of my personal favourites ‘New York City Cops’, followed by their recent hit single ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’, ‘The Modern Age’ (a pleasant surprise), ‘Machu Picchu’, and then two of the big guns ‘Reptilla’ and ‘Someday’. It’s fair to say that this was a pretty strong start to the set.
They then jumped to the more unfamiliar ‘Life Is Simple In The Moonlight’, the closing track from Angles, quickly followed by a track that, out of all their songs, best describes The Strokes – ‘You Only Live Once’.
It was slightly ironic that their actions during this song also represented the band particularly well, as it was during this “You Only Live Once” when we all realized just how drunk The Strokes (Julian in particular) were. After falsely taking the blame for messing up the intro he proceeded to tell the fans he didn’t care, then after realizing what he had said quickly apologised, before going on and messing up a couple of lines in the song. I loved it.
A few more solid tracks varying from different albums propped up the middle of the set until Julian informed us that The Strokes had little surprise in store for the Reading crowd. At that moment Jarvis Cocker emerged on stage to cover The Cars classic track ‘Just What I Needed’ alongside The Strokes. It was truly a special moment for any fan to see these two icons who have, without a doubt, played a huge part in influencing today’s music, having a good time together up on stage.
It’s at this point that Albert Hammond Jr. informed Julian that they only had 10 minutes left until curfew, which was met with a chorus of boos. Julian then implied to the crowd they’d have to get through the following tracks quickly, which is exactly what they did. As The Strokes blasted out ‘Juicebox’, ‘Last Nite’, and ‘Hard To Explain’ before closing on ‘Take It Or Leave It’. There was no grand finale, no fancy MCR confetti for The Strokes; Julian just said ‘Peace’ and the band walked off the stage in true ramshackle Strokes fashion. Chants of ‘We want more’ started but everyone knew the set was over.
It was cool and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. I walked back raving about the performance with my friends who had been at the front with me all the way back to my campsite, waiting to see what my other friends thought. When I arrived they all complained that they were boring and ‘didn’t put on a show’. I defended them and will tell anyone who shares this opinion that The Strokes aren’t about putting on a show. They are a band who turn up (drunk more often than not) play a laid-back set, connect with the crowd and leave the same way they came in. It was a little disappointing to see ’12:51′, ‘Barely Legal’, ‘Gratisfaction’ and ‘Take For A Fool’ left out, but on a whole they put together a crowd pleasing setlist, that sounded great.
Maybe it’s because it was my birthday, or maybe it was because I was fairly drunk, but in my eyes The Strokes pretty much nailed it…and may I add they looked mightily cool doing so. [4.0/5.0]
You can catch extended highlights of The Strokes headline set here.