The Strokes’ dramatic arrival at the start of the millennium was like a gift from the Gods with Britain taking to the band first and their debut headline show in London was a pivotal moment for the New Yorkers as their performance of ‘Last Nite’ captured their charm perfectly.
The iconic track changed the trajectory of the upstarts’ career and the raw rock ‘n’ roll spirit of it made Britain fall head over heels for The Strokes. Their arrival came following the mundane sounds of Coldplay, Embrace and Travis dominating the musical landscape before these five guys from New York helped bring guitar music back from the brink.
At the beginning of 2001, The Strokes soon made their name in the UK before they managed to do so in their home country. After sending their three-track EP titled The Modern Age to a newly reformed legendary British label Rough Trade, the company snapped up the New Yorkers in order to release the now-iconic debut record.
The EP featured the titular track alongside the decade-defining ‘Last Nite’ and ‘Barely Legal’ which would all go on to feature on the group’s debut full-length album. The release date was set for January 29th and to promote the material, the label organised a deal with NME for the publication to give away a free CD of ‘Last Nite’ taken from the upcoming release in the previous week’s issue.
The decision would turn out to be a marketing masterstroke as music lovers around the UK, who had been pining for the return of rock ‘n’ roll, had been granted their wish in the form of ‘Last Nite’. Just two days after Rough Trade released the EP in the UK, The Strokes began their first ever UK tour of intimate venues in support of The Modern Age and tickets were like gold dust.
The tour kicked off on January 31st at The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, and they would go on to visit Brighton and Bristol before finishing with two dates in the capital at The Astoria on February 3rd, the dates concluding four days later at The Monarch in Camden Town.
‘Last Nite’ is one of the definitive songs of the noughties which helped inspire a new generation of bands on both sides of the Atlantic and, even judging from this footage from the Astoria, you can feel that the audience were aware they were witnessing history.
The band never professed to be offering anything new to the table which was refreshing in itself with frontman Julian Casablancas openly saying “yeah, we ripped it off” when asked about the comparison to ‘American Girl’ by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Meanwhile, bassist Nikolai Fraiture has stated: “There are some bass lines on our first album that were 100% ripped off from The Cure. We were worried about putting out the album because we thought we’d get busted.”
The Strokes felt like they were a hark back to a time when the world of rock ‘n’ roll was a truly exciting place and even if they weren’t reinventing the wheel, these New Yorkers brought the good times back. Guitar music was once again in vogue and judging from this clip then it’s not difficult to understand why.
See the performance, below.