The Strokes + The Ridgeway
Portsmouth Guildhall - January 2006
Images: ©2006 Stuart Leech - www.music.stuartleechphotos.co.uk
Guest written by Maddie Nason
Ok, so you’re a local, Portsmouth band. You’ve played many a support slot in recent memory and you’ve headlined The Wedge at a number of sell-out shows. You’ve played little gigs, big gigs in the capital and you’ve put yourself up there on stage for all the music industry to see at In The City in Manchester. And then, along comes the big one. No, not that elusive record deal, but a support slot for The Strokes, playing the big daddy venue in your very own home town. What do you do? Well, If you’re The Ridgeway, you dress up in strangely official-looking charity shop three piece suits (who’d have thought a drummer could wear brown pinstripe and still look cool?) and take to the stage for a rip-roaring 25 minute set that actually makes people run from the bar to see what’s going on. Fifteen minutes after the doors are opened, the main auditorium isn’t that busy. 10 minutes into this set and it's filling up fast. Newcomers are cheering as loudly as those who’ve been here from the outset. Mixing frenetic guitar solos with their trademark bluesy feel, this is a band making the most of their own personal Strokes experience. As comfortable on the big stage as they are in The Wedge or The Joiners. And, thanks to a personal favour from none other than Jet’s tour manager doing their sound for the night, coming across like a band ripe for the picking by the interested industry parties who have made the journey down from London to see them. By the time The Strokes finally hit the stage, the Guildhall is packed to capacity; even the bar staff seem to have abandoned their beer taps to catch the arrival of New York‘s finest. From Fab Moretti’s regal position on his drum riser, to the front line of Nick Valensi, Albert Hammond Jr, Nikolai Fraiture and a slightly drunk looking Julian Casablancas, this was vintage Strokes right from the off. Kicking off with 'The Modern Age' and unleashing a set that deftly combined classics like 'Last Nite' and 'Reptilia' with the new material. This was clearly a band with nothing to prove. But sometimes that's a bit too obvious. They’re not exactly renowned for their animated stage presence and, at times, they seem like they're just going through the motions. Fab looks like he's reading a newspaper and the front line are playing by numbers. However, this is The Strokes and if they occasionally appear blasé, it doesn't detract from the experience but serves to highlight the magic ingredient that goes into making a great gig: the adoring, screaming, cheering, dancing fans.