From The Strokes to CRX, Nick Valensi puts on endearing performance
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Nick Valensi proved that he could take on a bigger responsibility by stepping up to the plate as the front man for his new solo project CRX.
With the recent release of their debut album, “New Skin,” CRX have been on tour since early November promoting it. They performed nine out of 10 songs from the album in the intimate and tasteful setting of Brighton Musical Hall to a crowd of devoted fans Sunday night.
When you’re the guitarist in a widely popular rock band like The Strokes, playing show after show is nothing new. In a recent phone interview with the Journal, Valensi stated why he decided to go solo.
“It sounds overly simple, but I started CRX because I missed playing live, and I wanted to get out on tour,” he said.
San Diego-based rock-jazz band The Gloomies and folk-rock band Streets of Laredo of New Zealand opened for CRX with two fun and entertaining sets, both expressing their gratitude for the opportunity to be on tour with Valensi and his band.
Though their set was only a little over half an hour long, Valensi and CRX captivated the crowd with an endearing set of hard rock with a mix of new wave and punk.
Sporting a black blazer, white shirt, jeans and high top sneakers, Valensi had a certain swagger about him from the second he walked on stage. They opened with their short but sweet up tempo rocker, “On Edge”, displaying his quick guitar skills along with guitarist Darian Zahedi.
Valensi definitely proved he has what it takes to be a natural lead singer, as his clear, smooth-toned voice blended right in with the edgy rock sound displayed on stage. With catchy tracks performed like “Give it Up,” and their breakout track “Ways to Fake It,” Valensi and his band confirmed they don’t have to fake anything as they breezed through each performance with confidence. The entire band seemed to be very comfortable working together.
This could also be due to the fact that Valensi has known the members of his band for quite some time, and they are also the musicians he reached out to for feedback in the early stages of the songwriting process for “New Skin”.
“After playing the demos for them and bouncing some ideas back and forth, it quickly turned into collaboration,” he said.
Their collaboration turned out to be a successful one, with keyboardist/guitarist Richie Follin’s alluring synth, bassist Jon Safley’s backbone rhythms, and drummer Ralph Alexander’s intense Led Zeppelin’s own John Bonham-inspired drum patterns. CRX executed strong musicianship collectively.
Before they finished with their final number of the night “Walls,” Valensi let the crowd know there would not be an encore performance like most bands usually have planned.
“We don’t do encores, hope that doesn’t bum you out,” he quipped.
However, Valensi made it known that he is no stranger to the stage, and he seemed to enjoy the intimacy of a smaller crowd other than what he is used to with The Strokes. There is a quality about him that is unique; his controlled and smooth performance style will surely take him far with this solo project.
“Playing live is one of my favorite things about being a musician, so I’m really excited to have this new project that I can take on the road at a moment’s notice,” he said.
CRX will remain on their U.S. tour through late December, and Valensi said there are no signs of stopping anytime soon.