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The Stranglers

THE Stranglers and I go way back; I was 17 when I first saw them at university in Sheffield during the burgeoning punk scene. So it was a real trip down memory lane for me and many others no doubt as the band played Rock City on their 40th anniversary tour.

After 24 top 40 singles and 18 hit albums, founding members Jean Jacques Burnel and Jet Black are still at it; being loud, lively and exciting. Although for the Nottingham show, the 75-year-old Black was replaced by Jim Macaulay due to illness.

Many bands that continue after the departure of their ostensible frontman seem to go into gradual but irretrievable decline, but since Hugh Cornwall quit 24 years ago, The Stranglers have remained stable and strong, with vocal and guitar duties taken by Baz Warne.

During an extensive set, with multiple songs from most of their albums, Warne performed with trademark intensity, whilst Dave Greenfield hammered the keys in a frenzy. Burnel’s melodic bass is, of course, the backbone of their unique sound.

With such a huge repertoire, there were always going to be songs that you would have loved them to have played, but what they did give us was a really good mix. Coming on to Waltz In Black it did not take them long to get into their stride. With No More Heroes, Burnel’s bass seemed to make the whole place vibrate; whilst the brilliantly scratchy riffs on the reggae tinged Nice N Sleazy show that it has stood the test of time.

The bloke next to me yelped with excitement when the melodic bass of Peaches began, and Skin Deep was simply outstanding.

There were the lesser known hits such as Tramp, Still Life and Freedom Is insane, but the timeless Golden Brown, Always The Sun and the magnificent Tank, were all rapturously received.

Despite some occasional interaction, the band remained rather distant and movement around the stage was limited. Still, with most of the band in their sixties...

And they sounded better than most bands a third their age.

 

A fantastic evening that took this fan back to his youth when I was mortgage free and lithe enough to squeeze myself through a toilet window at a Northern university to watch them for the first time.

 

By Kevin Cooper

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