Tag Archive: Punk


First and foremost, I’m a Stranglers fan. So much so, in my 2015 novel, Dead Girl Stalking, my protagonist had a poster of them on his bedroom wall, and he defended the band from the derision of his girlfriend whose tastes were probably more R&B. I even acknowledged the band at the front of the book as having provided a running soundtrack while writing it. So if you ever do read Dead Girl Stalking, have a little Don’t Bring Harry or Baroque Bordello at the back of your mind.

My own love affair with The Stranglers began in 1977 with a BASF C-90 taped recording of Rattus Norvegicus. A multitude of albums and 21 gigs attended, that dalliance long ago became a full-blooded relationship. I have many favourite bands but if I’m honest, the one I could not live without are The Stranglers.

The last two years have affected everyone in varying ways, none more so than the Family in Black. The loss of Dave Greenfield in 2020 was that of a family member. A constant companion, friend, and lover, all through the years I have followed the band.

Yeah, I admit, when I first heard the news of Dave’s passing, I thought, “Well, that’s it.” I couldn’t see how the band could continue. Members, some of them huge, have departed over the years but along with the trademark bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel, Dave Greenfield’s keys are the sound of The Stranglers. So I was glad when the tour still took place in memory of Dave and ecstatic when the 18th studio album, Dark Matters, was posthumously released with Dave’s keyboards present. Within the opening minute of Water, I fell in love with Dave and The Stranglers all over again. But how would they be live without the great man on stage?

The answer was – superb. From the opening bars of Waltz in Black, I had that buzz I’d not felt for so long. Then the euphoria as the band took to the stage and launched into Toiler on the Sea. The Stranglers were back.

One massive change as Toby Hounsham had the unenviable task of taking the keyboards and was described by guitarist/vocalist Baz Warne as having massive balls to do so. Toby was brilliant, in fact, reproducing Greenfield’s arpeggios and sounding just as good as any other Stranglers gig I have attended. It was also nice to see Toby well received by the faithful, thankful, like myself, that the magic is not over. As JJ Burnel stated in the past, The Stranglers are a brand, not a band, so there is no reason they should ever end. I guess it’ll happen one day but aged 58 myself, I can be selfish and hope they don’t go just yet.

On the night we were treated to classic after classic: Something Better Change, Always the Sun, Strange Little Girl, Go Buddy Go, Golden Brown, Hanging Around, Sometimes and Skin Deep among many others. But we also had six new songs from the brilliant Dark Matters. Water, Last Men on the Moon and This Song, fans are already familiar with, having done the circuit on the last tours before Covid. But there was also a debut for White Stallion, which I believe will become a permanent fixture in future tours like Relentless has been since 2006.

It’s always good to witness The Stranglers gel. I’ve followed them from near the beginning but can honestly say in recent years they have never been better live. JJ and Baz come across as two who are on the same page. This also applies to the newer recruits. Jim Macauly on drums has been with the band several years now and even contributed to songs on Dark Matters. And along with Toby Hounsham, provided great backing vocals on several numbers, just as Mr. Greenfield did for many years.

The other two new songs were performed as a JJ/Baz duet during the first of two encores. The short acoustic, The Lines was excellent before a poignant and highly emotional version of And if You Should See Dave. Written as a tribute, there was many a watery eye during the line, “This is where your solo would go.” The empty keyboard lit to all round applause and cheers.

As the case is so often, The Stranglers finished with No More Heroes, always guaranteed to bring the house down. Thankfully, I do still have heroes and hopefully, mine will be here for some time yet.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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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