October 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 27  

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Is this it? Not for The Strokes

By Paul Leishman
Gazette Writer

Confirming rumours that length really isn't all that important, The Strokes delivered a headlining act with hard-hitting guitar riffs and onstage antics to a receptive crowd at the Hershey Centre in under 70 minutes.

The band made their only Canadian stop in Mississauga to promote their anticipated sophomore album, Room on Fire. While they have moved to larger venues for this tour, the band stayed close to their roots in terms of performance style. From lead singer Julian Casablancas' distorted singing and perpetual consumption of beer and cigarettes to the catchy guitars of Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi, the band stayed true to what earned them acclaim early in their career.

The Strokes set out to prove they are worthy of the hype surrounding them. Just prior to coming on stage, the song "Here Comes Success" was played, suggesting the band doesn't lack confidence in their stage act. They proved this by working the crowd with hits like "Last Night" and "Someday," while mixing in new songs like "2:51" and "Alone Together." There was a balance of old and new songs that included nearly their entire repertoire and certainly satisfied all fans. Between songs, Casablancas took time to thank the crowd for throwing items like cigarettes and mesh back hats at him by stating, "You guys are fucking great. You care," and throwing the remains of one of his shoes to a lucky fan.

What made this performance impressive was the band's ability to engage the audience and bring The Strokes' "club-like" sound and style to an arena. They managed to replicate their album sound impressively for the live performance. Although the band was careful not to make any sudden movements and actually make use of their strobe lights, there was a great deal of crowd surfing done by several members.

Since this was one of The Strokes' first large headlining events, they expressed their gratitude for the fans' support on a number of occasions. In response to the large crowd, Casablancas claimed they "weren't expecting this" and decided to spend most of his night in contact with the first few rows of fans and occasionally surfing the mosh pit. The band also treated the audience to a rare encore performance of "Is This It?" The Strokes have chosen to follow their prior formula for success on the songs for the second album and it's been the right decision.



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