Tag Archive: Baz Warne


2016 has not been good for rock fans. In the first few months we’ve seen the passing of David Bowie, Lemmy and Keith Emerson. When the news of Bowie broke, I recall commenting that people my age are going to be seeing a lot of this in the near future. Add to that, I’m unlikely to witness AC/DC in any familiar incarnation soon. Things are certainly changing. More personal to me, though, I’ve also had to concede I may never again see a Stranglers gig featuring Jet Black on drums.

I guess it’s inevitable when you’ve followed music through five decades, that your heroes will one day be no more, but you still hope the magic will last a little longer.

March 12, Birmingham O2 Academy, I gazed upon the stage with eyes confirming what I already knew, even though the reality hurt.

One drum kit.

For the past four years, despite health issues, the drummer in black has beaten the odds and appeared in a cameo role during tours. Sadly, not this year. If it’s the end, we wish Jet well and thanks for everything.

But it begs the question. How much longer will it be before I have seen my last Stranglers gig? Something I ask every year but until the inevitable happens, I’ll keep turning up to lose myself in the ecstasy of the moment.

Now a regular for a few years, Birmingham lad, Jim MacAulay plays in the band alongside Jean-Jacques Burnel, Dave Greenfield and Baz Warne. Slight change in lineup, though nothing different about the performance.

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My 16th Stranglers show dating back to 1983 and as all previous, it didn’t disappoint.

Billed, The Black and White Tour, the band played the album of the same name in full for the first part of a near two hour set. Exploding straight into Tank, followed by Nice and Sleazy until the final conclusion with Enough Time, a song I finally heard live for the first time. As always, the band were in fine form although it was noticeable the atmosphere lifted another notch higher once Black and White had concluded and a wider variety set commenced with (Get a) Grip (On Yourself). Now I don’t mean that as any criticism of Black and White, I simply think playing the album from start to finish maybe lessened the anticipation with the audience already knowing what was coming next.

Not so the the second half which was as excellent as the first but with a few surprises thrown in. By far the biggest was the first time absence in my memory of Golden Brown. Call me controversial, but it’s about time. Must be frustrating for a band to be expected to play certain tracks every concert so I applaud the decision to exclude this sacred cow. That doesn’t apply to No More Heroes, though. Never remove that one from the set, guys, just so you know.

Other favourites were there in a set which spanned the decades: Five Minutes, Something Better Change, Always the Sun, plus more recent classics including Relentless and Norfolk Coast. A nice surprise was A Soldiers Story. Not sure about being the first time live, but it certainly was for me.

The guys come round my way every March/April and 2016 was as good as ever. Loads of energy with no sign of the band ending soon. Ironically, one of the biggest cheers of the night was the usual Baz ad-libbing during Peaches.

 “I could think of a lot worse places to be.
Like down in the street,
or down in the sewer,
or Villa Park at the end of the season.”

Hey, the show was in Birmingham and if you’re not into football, all I can say is, it’s a local joke.

2016 – a year not yet three months old where so many rock legends have left us. Not so the Stranglers. Yes, it’ll happen sometime, but until I see it in Black and White, I’ll savour every minute, every year.

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Cheers.

Nick

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When Blur were honoured as lifetime achievers for their twenty-one years in pop at the recent Brit Awards, I had to suppress ironic amusement. I blogged at the time, asking how seven studio albums constituted greatness with notably, no releases since 2003.

In contrast, the Stranglers are now on their third studio outing since that date with latest offering, Giants, number seventeen in a long list of classic albums.

Nearing 40 years in the industry, the Stranglers have toured, played live in every one of those years to my knowledge. I saw my twelfth concert by the band at the O2 Academy in Birmingham on Saturday and like the previous eleven, no two Stranglers concerts are the same.

It would be easy, simply to roll out the standard, well-known hits but the Stranglers have never been ones for taking that route. Grip, Five Minutes and Always the Sun – all absent and did I miss them? Not one bit. Instead I got four new tracks off Giants and my first ever live experience of Sometimes, Rise of the Robots and Shut up.

From the moment the lights dim and you hear the opening chords of Waltz in Black, the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end because you know the the band are coming on. Two minutes later, the place erupts in a blazing inferno as the guys launch into Burning Up Time. The previously mentioned, Sometimes is next, followed by hit after hit; songs maybe not fashionable with the mainstream music press but to a Stranglers fan, each would top their charts.

Highlights for me were belting renditions of Relentless and The Raven, the latter of which was accompanied by a stuffed replica thrown onto the stage. The bird was promptly removed by a stagehand though not before the poor creature lost half its limbs when it fell apart. Also, strangely flung on, were what appeared to be items of underwear and a female roadie who went to retrieve a pair, took one look, grimaced and kicked them back in the audience. Obviously worn. Strange folk, these Stranglers fans at times.

The band are all in fine form, displaying that they still enjoy what they do. Jean Jacques Burnel and Baz Warne share the vocals equally and I forget the time when there was ever any other line up. Always a magic moment, No More Heroes rings out and I worry that the day will come when my heroes will become no more. Dave Greenfield, whose keyboards have hypnotised me for thirty five years is in his sixties as is Burnel. The fantastic Jet Black is seventy three, for crying out loud and as I type this, I read with horror that he has been rushed to hospital and had to miss the Oxford gig last night. Get well soon fella, you are, as always, awesome.

So what constitutes a lifetime’s achievement in music? If the Brit Awards are anything to go by, little over 100 tracks on seven albums during a twelve-year period. The Stranglers, never had, or likely will, receive the credit they deserve though with seventeen studio albums and a similar amount of live ones to listen to, I could play them non-stop for days. They may never be acknowledged in a way that their lifetimes achievements are recognised by the masses, but they have given more joy to last this particular fan – a lifetime. And that’s some achievement.

Nick

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