A swaggering Stones-like riff kicked off “Primadonna Like Me." Luke Spiller grabbed the microphone and began prowling the Pinewood Bowl stage.
The Struts, hyped as the world’s best new rock ‘n roll band, hit Lincoln for the first time Wednesday.
Opening for Shinedown, the British quartet tore through about half of its 40-minute set in bang-bang-bang fashion.
Showing off its blend of Rolling Stones rock ’n’ roll, ’70s glam and a little straight rock that somehow sounds fresh in their hands, The Struts and their part Mick Jagger, part Freddy Mercury frontman connected with the 4,000 who were filtering into the Pioneers Park amphitheater as they played.
“We are The Struts, all the way from the United Kingdom,” Spiller said. “It’s great to be here ... I know hardly any of you are here to check us out. Thank you very much for being so receptive.”
The Struts split their seven-song set among their three albums, each song hitting its target, e.g. the hard rock of “Wild Child,” the finger-snapping roll of “Body Talk,” the anthemic closer “Could Have Been Me.”
Guitarist Adam Slack proved to be a perfect rock string handler, cranking out the riffs that anchor the songs and blistering the solos for good measure.
And Spiller is an undeniable rock ’n’ roll frontman, engaging, energetic and an effective singer.
For the past three or four years, The Struts have been tabbed, along with Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet, as bands that will save rock.
After having at last seen them all live, my money’s on The Struts, a great band that more than proved up the hype.
As for the headliners, Shinedown demonstrated why it can be the hardest touring band in rock.
That starts with a well-paced barrage of the songs the crowd came to hear, delivered by a well-oiled hard rock machine, led by singer Brent Smith, who’s arguably the most underrated frontman in rock.
First pulling in the crowd with his “tell your neighbor you’re glad they’re at the show” attempt at creating community, the 20-year veteran endeared himself to the fans, telling them that Lincoln was the loudest crowd the band had played for on its 2019 tour with Papa Roach that stopped at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
That got them singing along with the dark, intense “45” and kept them connected and singing through “Save Me,” the anthemic, piano-rooted ballad “I’ll Follow You,” and jumping around and shaking fists to the hammering buzz of “Enemies,” showing a camera, in Smith’s words “what a real live show looks like.”
Movingly, Smith, one of the most sincere men in rock, asked for a moment of silence to remember those who have died from COVID-19, then had the crowd hold up phones for “Get Up,” dedicating it to a Lincoln boy who died at age 12 and loved the song.
The always-touring appeal extends to the production as well with a set of back wall screens and three trusses of lights that illuminated the stage in classic fashion, then left the band in silhouette.
So bassist Eric Bass spinning around in the darkness, then he, Smith, and guitarist Zach Myers would go to the front of the stage for gang vocals in full light.
Projected World War II footage on four split screens set the mood for “Bully” as Smith roamed around the stage and onto the illuminated drum platform.
It was, in other words, a show, not just a musical showcase.
And, as was the case at the arena two years ago, it was a pleaser for the crowd, most of whom, by show of hands, said they’d seen Shinedown before — the final ingredient in their ability to play hundreds of shows year after year.
Wednesday’s show was the final concert in the 2021 Pinewood Bowl season, which saw a genre-spanning run of fine shows from Jamey Johnson, The Avett Brothers and Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow and 311 as well as a Styx concert that was moved to Pinnacle Bank Arena because of inclement weather.