THE STROKES at the Air Canada Centre, October 9. Tickets: $45.50. Attendance: 4,500. Rating: NNN
success may have had some impact on the Strokes, but it sure hasn't inspired them to change anything. A year ago, the New York City five were stumbling through a set at a rammed Horseshoe Tavern at the height of Strokes hysteria. A few months before that, they were the support for the Doves. This time around they played the bowl of the Air Canada Centre. Very different circumstances all, but the Strokes have played essentially the same set three times, with little or no upgrade.
Sure, there's a bit more polish to their already sleek punk-pop songs, but the only thing the Strokes seem to have spent their cash on is a few fancy lights and more short ties. There were no leather pants Thursday, no dreary use of the stage as a pulpit and no pointless reworkings of the 16 or so songs in their catalogue.
Julian Casablancas tried to drink himself into oblivion while the rest of the band churned through the hits in almost robotic fashion. Even the group's new material, like the song Meet Me In The Bathroom, came across like extensions of their album, This Is It?
That might sound dull or workman-like, but it's actually a good thing. People don't go to see the Strokes to hear 10-minute jams on The Modern Age. Watching them bash through every song they knew with bored, vacant gazes was about as exciting as it was going to get, even if their snarling run at Last Nite did actually sound like a stadium rock song.
The big time? They couldn't care less.