“We haven’t been back here in forever,” said Julian Casablancas during The Strokes sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden on April 1st. He meant NYC, not MSG. The hometown crowd clearly felt their absence and gave them a welcome-home party like they’ve never had before. People were going crazy from the moment they walked out on stage. Couples started making out because they didn’t know what else to do with the outpouring of love they felt.
For me they got off to kind of a slow start. “Is This it” isn’t the most exciting opener. Following with “Reptilia” was smart but I still wasn’t fully into yet. Once they went into “Last Nite” though, only a few songs later, I was suddenly 15 years old again- feeling something inside me explode and knowing I’ll never be the same again. From that point on I was in 100%, dancing and singing and grinning like a fool. Other highlights were “Juicebox,” which Julian sang most of from the crowd, and a heavily mirror-balled “Under Control,” the only true ballad The Strokes have. But the best part of the night came when Elvis Costello joined in on “Taken For A Fool.” It was nothing short of amazing and I was completely dumbfounded. Even the band couldn’t hide how excited they were to be playing with such a legend (except for Nikolai who always kind of looks like an Ent from Lord of the Rings). Julian and Albert smiled at each other in disbelief and when the song was done they all just ran off the stage.
Of course there was an encore and all of it was stellar. It started with the rarely played “Ask Me Anything” and culminated with a massive “Take It Or Leave It.” I walked out of their with the feeling you’re supposed to get after a great concert, not just that you’ve seen a show but that you’ve been a part of something. The feeling that you just had a unique experience. The reception for their new album Angles has been mixed but one thing if for sure, it’s really good to have them back.
The Strokes 4/1/11 MSG Setlist:
Is This It
Under Cover of Darkness
Hard to Explain
You're So Right
You Only Live Once
New York City Cops
Taken For A Fool (with Elvis Costello)
Ask Me Anything
The Modern Age
I Can't Win
Take It or Leave It
**Jon Zuckerman is a contributing writer for Officially A Yuppie. He is also a member of another New York City rock band, The Twees.