My voice is completely gone, but Julian Casablancas was worth it. That's his real name, and he is a real rock star, and the girl in front of me Saturday night at the Beaumont Club loved him and put her hands out to him, and I could feel her love and I could feel it in the band behind him.
"How you guys doing, man?" the singer asked at the beginning of his set in a room he told the crowd was "intimate." Casablancas was maybe the first rock star I'd ever seen. He leaned into the mic with his whole body as well as with his voice, and sometimes when he retreated from it he danced a little in the dark with the band. He knew how to wear a leather jacket.
Casablancas opened with three songs from his 2009 solo album, Phrazes for the Young, before taking on the Strokes' "Hard to Explain" and then, a few songs later, "I'll Try Anything." Although the applause and lyric recall from the audience were elevated for their favorites, it wasn't like everyone was just waiting for some hint of the Strokes the whole night. The new stuff was riff-hearty, heavy on cymbals and long on melody. At their most soulful and funky, they built from within and came slow, with the guitars and synthesized notes growing and building on top of one another.
There were plenty of people to help him build. The stage setup included two drum sets and two keyboards, and some songs used three guitar players.
"Thanks so much, guys. Thank you," Casablancas said. He laughed into the mic. "So, yeah, we're gonna do this," Casablancas said right before going into "I Wish It Was Christmas Today," his cover of the Saturday Night Livesong. "I don't know what we do. We just do it and people like it. Don't judge."
1. New One
2. Ludlow St.
3. River Brakelights
4. Hard to Explain
6. 11th Dimension
7. I'll Try Anything
8. Right in the Dark
9. I Wish It Was Christmas Today
10. Out of the Blue
11. 4 Chords of the Apocalypse