Review: The Strokes @ Hordern Pavilion (Sydney)

The Strokes played Sydney's Hordern Pavilion on 28 July, 2022. The Strokes played Sydney's Hordern Pavilion on 28 July, 2022. Image © Hayden Nixon

Putting aside a love of guitars and a shared nationality, you probably couldn't find two more disparate openers than The Lazy Eyes and The Chats for The Strokes' Sydney show at Hordern Pavilion (28 July).

The former are a sprightly, slick psych-rock outfit that embody the influential role both Tame Impala and King Gizzard have consequently had on a younger generation of Australian bands and artists.

The Sydney quartet exude confidence, and run through their half-hour with both charm and impeccable precision – a fully-formed, fully-fledged force of youthful exuberance and inspired idolatry. Effortlessly impressive.

The Lazy Eyes
The Lazy Eyes - image © Hayden Nixon

As for The Chats, there is no such finesse or texture in their approach – the Sunny Coast trio arrive with all the subtlety of a swinging hammer.

It's far from the headliners' leather-jacket cool, but it's honestly to the band's credit that they do not compromise who they are regardless of their environment.

It's all banged-up cars, lost bus passes and the sunburnt scenery of Queensland – all delivered at breakneck, frenetic pace. In fact, the band perform so fast that a large amount of the audience don't realise the band are playing their signature song 'Smoko' until the chorus rolls through.

Unpretentious, unruly and ultimately unreal – what you see is what you get, and what you get is righteous and outrageous fun.

The Chats
The Chats - image © Hayden Nixon

Tonight marks almost exactly 12 years to the date that The Strokes last took to the stage in Sydney – at this very venue, no less. It's been a tumultuous decade that's ensued.

By frontman Julian Casablancas' own admission, the band "kind of took the 2010s off". Now, on the back of their 2020 comeback 'The New Abnormal', it's finally Sydney's chance to see the revitalised Strokes in full flight.

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The Strokes - image © Hayden Nixon

The one-two punch of 'Bad Decisions' and 'Juicebox' allows for the sold-out crowd to convert into a makeshift choir – a role that will stay steadfast for the entire evening – while a surprise detour into 'Room On Fire' deep cut 'Under Control' sends pockets of the room into an unexpected swoon.

With an impressive lights display guiding the quintet, the ensuing 90 minutes takes us across various points of the band's 20-plus-year career.

We go all the way back to the beginning with 'The Modern Age', which still rolls and rumbles with as much intensity as it did at the turn of the century.

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The Strokes - image © Hayden Nixon

We're given a brief insight into some new jams, at the other end of the spectrum – so new, in fact, that Casablancas doesn't even have words for them just yet, instead throwing AutoTuned melodies across the beat-driven grooves.

It doesn't quite land, sure, but watching one of the biggest rock bands of the last 25 years still working from scratch is a sight to see in its own right. Besides, for any minor misstep, there are leaps and bounds to make up for it.

The electric 'Hard To Explain', the rollicking 'Heart In A Cage', the swinging 'Someday'. . . truly, you somehow forget the absolute hit parade that was on offer when the band was at its peak until it's literally unfurling in front of your eyes.

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The Strokes - image © Hayden Nixon

Not to mention, for as loose and nonchalant as Casablancas can be, the instrumental aspect of the band remains an exercise in precision – see the blistering 'Reptilia' and the explosive closer 'Take It Or Leave It' as testament, with the latter seeing Albert Hammond, Jr. leap up onto the the drum riser to see it out alongside tub-thumpber Fab Moretti.

As an adoring inter-generational audience watches on, The Strokes simultaneously live out their past glories while making some new ones for good measure. Exceptional.

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The Strokes - image © Hayden Nixon

More photos from the show.

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