The Stranglers, 40yrs on, playing a collection of their back catalogue from 1977 until 1982, Live in my favourite venue on a school night. Beats the hell out of watching Eastenders !! Now even a self confessed Classic Rock fan such as myself, on hearing of this tour, couldn’t help from humming, singing, call it what you will, the bass line to ‘Peaches’ !
Having never seen them live I was interested to see how the last 40 years has been to them. Back in the day I never considered them as true Punks but more like the first of the ‘Indie’ bands. They had a certain ‘Class’ about them which made them stand out above the safety pinned, bondage clad, spitting punk of that era. In fact they had skill’s, evident in their song’s structure and musicality.
Tonight they are supported by the The Ruts/DC. Mssr’s Jennings, Heggarty and Ruffy start the night off full of energy. In fact guitarist Leigh Heggarty seemed to be switched to overload as he gave it his all bouncing around his side of the stage, thoroughly enjoying his time in front of this enthusiastic audience. More of which later. As was always going to be the case, the old favourite ‘Babylons Burning‘ got the more able of the crowd bouncing and fist punching. Great a bit of life in the crowd is always good to see. With a short set the Ruts/DC did a sterling job of getting the crowd warmed up, but it was done and now we waited for the main event. Would the crowd deliver, thats what I was waiting for, how would they react ?
The lights dimmed and Waltzinblack struck up !! The Crowd erupted as J J Brunel and Baz Warne took the stage. No sooner had they gotten sorted and they start straight into ‘Raven’, the title track off their 4th Album. The band are tight knocking out that classic Stranglers sound of Brunel’s tight bass and Dave Greenfield’s keyboards. Throw in Baz’s (Warne) excellent guitar work and tonights drummer, Jim Macauley (touring drummer) and you have an explosive sound that wreaks of pure 70’s angst. Following on with ‘Was It You’ and then ‘Sometimes’. The band has now got into its groove and are enjoying their moment. And with my three in the pit over I seek a position were I can enjoy the band and saviour the atmosphere.
‘Get a Grip on Yourself ‘ follows, another crowd favourite, who are now somewhat the better for drink it would seem. I managed to squeeze my way through as they surge back and forth, and get a spot at the doorway giving a good view of the stage and the crowd. Next follows three tracks I’d not heard before and it would seem that a large majority of the crowd hadn’t either as they seem to just stand and stare. Gone was the angst but only briefly as the immediately identifiable intro to ‘Golden Brown’ strikes up and they were bouncing again.
There had been no talking from the band at all so far, in fact there would be no banter all night. Each song would introduce itself..
Dionne Warwick’s 1964 hit ‘Walk On By’ featured next, a tune that the Stranglers have covered since 1978 when it appeared on their third album ‘Black and White‘. This gave Dave Greenfield a chance to show his keyboard skills with an instrumental break that went on for what seemed like forever but was probably only 5 minutes. This was followed soon after, with the highlight of the show for me ‘Peaches‘ that Bass line will remain with me forever. The crowd joined in with the chorus, shouting it back to the band as they played, a really great moment. All to soon the set had come to an end, but not soon enough for some it would seem. But wait, the familiar riff to ‘Relentless’ starts up, and yes the band are back with the first of two encores and a total of four extra songs to enjoy. They finish the night off with the crowd pleaser ‘No More Heroes‘ at which point all those who weren’t on O2 or collapsed on the floor gave it the attention such an iconic Stranglers tune deserves.. JJ and Baz are smiling like cheshire cats as the crowd go wild for it. And so the night ends, in a Rock City full of beer and sweat !
The band have lost none of their energy even if they’ve had a line up change or two. Musicality was never in doubt ! Baz and JJBrunel smashing the vocal duties. The stage presence and light show being top notch. A really great night out. 40 years on the band still had it, sadly, looking at the crowd, that 40 years had settled on their waistline. Long gone were the hair do’s and bondage.. 20 years of age then but now, in their 60’s, it showed …
Full Gallery by Manny here The Ruts/DC & Stranglers Live