Review by Greg Hamil for MPM
So, summer in the Midwest is in full swing and it has been hot and humid! It doesn’t help that the Canadian wildfires have been causing air quality issues either. But we soldier on because summer is concert season and the bands coming to the area this year make it well worth braving the elements!
On this night it was The Struts w/special guests Mac Saturn that brought me to The Sylvee in Madison, WI. What a perfect lineup for a party town like this! The Sylvee is a 2,500-seat theater with an open, general admission floor and a balcony with reserve seating. The floor doesn’t go too deep, and the balcony seating is steep, so no matter where you choose to watch the show from, you have a great view!
First to hit the stage was Mac Saturn! Right off the bat I will say that there aren’t many bands that I don’t like. I am a music lover, and I can always find something that I like about everyone I see. But it is rare that a band will blow me away right out of the gate! That is exactly what Mac Saturn did on this night.
Mac Saturn has been a big presence of the Michigan music scene since 2020 and have recently begun touring the country. The band features Carson Macc on vocals, Mike Moody and Nick Barone on guitars, Jive Moses on bass, Angelo Coppola on drums, and Even Mercer on keyboards. Their sound is a mash up of 70s Rock with a Motown style groove. The musical talent of this band is off the charts!
As Mac Saturn hit the stage, the theater was already well over two-thirds full, with a steady stream of people still arriving. The first notes of “Mint Julep” starts with a groove beat and guitar riff that would have made Stevie Ray Vaughn proud. Macc strolls on stage, tambourine in hand and begins to dance in a way very reminiscent of Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler. He immediately takes control of the crowd in a way that makes each person there feel like he is singing only to them.
Not taking their foot off the pedal, Macc asks the crowd if they are ready for some rock and roll and gets a huge reaction that tells me that everyone is already hooked. He trades the tambourine for six maracas as they perform “Persian Rugs”. Not to be outdone, Mercer grabs six more maracas and joins in through the lead guitar solo.
By time Mac Saturn reaches the middle of their set, the theater is at near capacity, and everyone is hooked. They perform songs like “Diamonds”, “Get on The Phone”, and “Mr. Cadillac” all of which get huge responses from the crowd in recognition of the incredible talent of each member of the band.
Mac Saturn went above and beyond what an opening act is supposed do. This crowd arrived ready to rock but were treated to a clinic in what music used to be and is becoming again! Folks, if you haven’t heard of Mac Saturn, do a little research because if they catch on, they are going to be a force in this industry for a LONG time!
Mac Saturn Setlist: Mint Julep – Persian Rugs – Diamonds – Paradiso – Ain’t Like You – Get on The Phone – Mr. Cadillac – Plain Clothes Gentleman
You would think after that performance, anything else would be a letdown. Well buckle up folks, because next up is The Struts and you have no idea what’s in store!
The Struts were formed in 2012 in Derby, Derbyshire, England. They are a glam rock/hard rock band consisting of Luke Spiller on vocals, Adam Slack on guitar, Jed Elliott on bass, and Gethin Daviess on drums. They have released 3 albums including Everybody Wants (July 2014), Young & Dangerous (October 2018), and Strange Days (October 2020).
Now, there are a lot of people out there that say true rock is dead and that the art of the guitar solo is a thing of the past. I would argue that rock isn’t dead, but rather has been on a bit of a hiatus but is coming back strong with bands like the Mac Saturn, Greta Van Fleet, and The Struts.
Luke Spiller’s actions on stage have been compared to Freddy Mercury, Mick Jagger, and Steven Tyler which are all fair comparisons. It is also fair to say his vocals are very similar to Freddie Mercury, but being from Rockford, IL, I would also say there are many similarities to Robin Zander of my hometown band Cheap Trick.
The explode on stage playing ”Dirty Sexy Money”, ”Body Talks”, “Fallin’ With Me”, and the brand new “Too Good at Raising Hell” without a break. Spiller dances, struts, jumps across the stage while encouraging the crowd to wave and clap their hands above their heads while Slack and Elliot jump up and down and crisscross the stage engaging the crowd.
When they finally take a short break, Spiller asks how everyone liked the new song which draws a thunderous response. Davies starts a beat on the drums while Spiller says he wants to see everyone moving. Even though there isn’t a lot of room on the packed floor most of the crowd finds a way to dance along as they perform “Kiss This”. Spiller strolls back and forth across the stage point to people in the crowd on the floor, but also up to the fans in the balcony ensuring that everyone is included in the show.
Spiller now asks the crowd if there are any primadonnas here. Then says “raise your hands if you are a primadonna” to which the entire floor raises their hands. Then he says “scream if you are a primadonna” which gets the whole theater screaming. Slack flies through the lead guitar intro to “Primadonna Like Me” while Spiller and Elliot get everyone jumping up and down.
At the midway point of the show, Spiller sits down at the piano and tells the crowd that The Struts are just getting started and that “we are going to have an exceptional time”. He tells everyone to take a deep breath and we begin the sing-along part of the night as he begins playing “One Night Only”.
As he pounds away at the key and sings, this give Slack and Elliot an opportunity to come to the front of the stage and engage the crowd who respond appreciatively! As the song comes to and end, Elliot and Davies leave the stage and Slack begins to play the opening to “Mary Go Round” drawing screams from the whole theater. Spiller sings a portion of the song and just kind of fades out as the crowd takes over while he just stands and smiles.
As we near the end of the set, Spiller once again tells the crowd he wants to see everyone’s hands in the air as “Where Did She Go” is the next song up. Throughout the entire song he has everyone in the theater waving their hands back and forth. Slowly at first, then faster and faster as we come to each chorus.
After bidding goodnight to the crowd, Spiller returns for the encore to a tremendous response from the near capacity crowd. He asks who has been to a Struts show before, which brings a cheer from about half the crowd. He then asks who has never been to a Struts show before and by a show of hands, we hear from the other half of the crowd.
He welcomes everyone to the “family” and asks if anyone would come back to a Struts show when they come back.
This brings everyone to their feet as he takes a seat at the piano and does a solo version of “Fire (Part 1) to which everyone lights up their cell phones and once again waves them in the air.
To close out the show, Spiller brings the rest of the band out on stage and introduces everyone. As the cheers fade out, they play the final song of the night, “Could Have Been Me”. Everyone sings along, once again with hands in the air, dancing and jumping along with the band.
I very often tell people that if they haven’t seen a band, so go out and see them. That has never been truer than it is with The Struts. I have been to hundreds of shows, and this was the most fun I have had at a show in a LONG time. I hope you take advantage when they come to your area! Until the next show……KEEP Rockin’!
The Struts Setlist: Dirty Sexy Money – Body Talks – Fallin’ With Me – Too Good at Raising Hell – Kiss This – Primadonna Like Me – All Dressed Up (With Nowhere to Go) – One Night Only – Mary Go Round – Medley (In Love With a Camera/Cool/Matter of Time/Wild Child//Can’t Sleep/Somebody New) – Royals (Lorde cover) – Pretty Vicious – I Do It So Well – Where Did She Go – Put Your Money On Me – Fire (Part 1) – Could Have Been Me