SAN FRANCISCO — The Struts‘ frontman Luke Spiller’s mannerisms mirror Freddie Mercury’s so much that it can be possible to confuse whether his stage persona is an homage to the late Queen frontman or a social commentary. At the U.K. glam rock and power pop band’s show at the Fillmore Friday night, Spiller put all of his on-stage antics on display, from his posture and the way he moved, to leading the audience (a sold-out crowd) on a singalong of nonsensical sounds, and even the periodic accentuated roll of R sounds. His personality could have taken away from his band’s performance. Fortunately, his bandmates were more than up for the challenge every step of the way.
Spiller ran onto the stage in a Harlequinn-esque red and black leather suit and sparkly black shirt as The Struts launched into show opener “Primadonna Like Me,” the first of several grandiose major-key bangers from the band’s new album, Young & Dangerous. That led into new single “Body Talks” and “Kiss This,” from 2014 album Everybody Wants.
“I don’t give a shit if you know the words,” Spiller said before The Struts launched into “Fire (Part 1),” encouraging fans to get wilder and louder. On the song, Spiller sat at a white upright piano during the bridge and more than held his own alongside guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies. Following “People,” a a mid-tempo cut that was another early highlight, Spiller changed into a silky, flowing red shirt before “One Night Only” and a sped-up version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” During the latter, he brought three fans on stage to sing and dance with him. At that point, the show was just a bit past its halfway point.
Spiller spoke about how the band played a Victoria’s Secret fashion show in New York the previous night and how the band was going on little sleep; but especially Slack, who was “having a really good time.” There was one more costume change: this time into a red, white and blue top hat and jacket. The latter part of the show included “Put Your Money on Me,” “Somebody New” and “Could Have Been Me.”
The Struts were preceded by SoCal pop-punk band The Wrecks, who performed a short but sweet set of fan favorites, including the manic “Figure This Out,” “Panic Vertigo” and “James Dean.” The quintet also covered Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.”
“This is a really good song—I’m just milking it,” frontman Nick Anderson said during an extended pregnant pause during the song. The band kept the energy high with “Turn It Up” and “Favorite Liar.”
The Wrecks had more than music on their minds. Anderson asked fans to think of the firefighters and other emergency responders working the state’s two major fires, and those who put their lives on the line during the week’s mass shooting in Southern California.
“Theres a lot of shitty stuff going on right now,” Anderson said. “We formed our band in a town called Thousand Oaks.”
Seattle throwback band Thunderpussy opened the show with a set of late ’70s-inspired grease rock on songs like “Speed Queen.” Another song built slowly before exploding into a post-punk groove. Frontwoman Molly Sides peacocked around the stage as some songs merged the band’s ’70s influences with some ’80s hair rock. Oh, and they covered Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.”