Way Down Under… The Stranglers in Australia 2016 – A brace of reviews…

This just in from way down under - A superb brace of reviews from the recent Australian Tour courtesy of Meanie who regales us with tales of his antipodean adventures - Including transhemispheric double-decker submarine buses! For real! - Brilliant!!!...

Strangled in The Great Southern Land

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It was with some trepidation that I agreed to accept the honourable task of reporting on The Meninblackdownunder Tour (title blatantly stolen from the tour shirt). Being neither a literary genius, nor a great storyteller, I will endeavour to provide you with a blow by blow account from my perspective.

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A quick bit of background, when I moved to Australia, I didn’t think I would ever attend another Stranglers gig again, you know, bus timetables and all that, apparently there are no aquatic buses to The UK after 6PM on weekdays. I had been lucky enough to be around for the ‘Glory Days’ and was not at all keen on MKII. It was a case of tried that and didn’t like it, I was happy to remain loyal to the ‘old stuff’ and I had more than enough dodgy boots to keep me sustained. Then in 2009 I decided to dip the preverbial toe in the water when I saw that The Boys were playing a venue called The Roundhouse, at Sydney Uni, the temptation was too much, the name of the venue alone was enough to prise $1000 from me to get there, and what a night!!! Hooked again completely. I thought that would be the last time I ever saw the band and that I would die happy after the previous incarnation. For the record, I now see every Stranglers gig that I attend, as possibly the last time that I will ever see them, so it’s kind of emotional for me, I’m not ashamed to admit it. Fortunately, I have seen them seven ‘last times’ since Sydney.

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So, on to the matter at hand. Back to September 2015, my phone beeps…. SMS…. a link and a question…… are you going? I click the link, it’s a heads up on ticket sales for The Stranglers tour in April……..”Am I going???”, what kind of question is that? Of course I’m going, boot computer and register for the old early bird heads up thingo. Within days I’ve pawned the family jewels and got tickets, flights and accommodation……..now we wait, and wait and wait, I post “is it April yet” regularly on Facebook. Finally it’s April and we are packing for Brisbane 1000km round trip of open road interspersed every 10km by the dicks with sticks, that’s my term of endearment for those stout yeoman who wield the stop/go signs, I swear half the working population of Australia are dicks with sticks.

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The Tivoli – Brisbane

After a quick tour of family we set the GPS for Coniston Street in search of The Tivoli, we hit Brisbane at rush hour and become slightly quizzical of the GPS when it suggests that we turn left 8 times in succession, we abandon the car, I feed the meter and we set off on foot in search of the venue and then the pub, The Jubilee, to meet fellow Fansinblack. We wander in, spot a few Stranglers shirts milling about, we order drinks and sit down. I spot a few familiar faces and soon tables are being drawn together like some medieval banquet and the black knights and their ladies are seated reminiscing about old times, past gigs, football and the old country. It was great to meet some of those who had made the long and perilous journey to New Zealand and then on to Aus for the tour. I took particular delight in watching Chris Foulkes squirm as I told him the story about the brown snake in our bathroom, there is no innuendo whatsoever in that, real snake.

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We sculled a few and then all set off to wait for the doors to open, it was still pretty hot, so nobody had a problem with standing outside waiting for the doors to open ten minutes after the tickets stated, which is the norm. As soon as I entered the venue memories came flooding back of the venues I had seen The Stranglers play so many years ago, before the advent of the concrete and metal insincere buildings they call concert halls, all owned by the same money grabbing company. It felt like I had come home, I grabbed my tour shirt and stubby holder post hastily as I know how quickly those things sell out here. We found a great spot and I made the obligatory trip to the bar as is customary at such occasions, beer in a bottle, not one of those plastic cups, living the high life, we were.

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Support was provided by some nong with a laptop who stood like someone who wasn’t sure whether he’d peed on his white trousers and was desperately looking to see in the dimly lit venue, at the beginning we were lured into a false sense of security as he played tunes by the old skool punk elite at the beginning of his ‘set’, by the time he’d reached a painful near two hour marathon, Jo was ready to beat him to death with his laptop and she made that VERY clear. And two hours passed, the sound was pretty dire, the nong never uttered a word, remaining stooped over his gadgetry while we waited, somewhat impatiently. By 9PM the crowd were getting toey as we’d been told that there was a curfew and this dick was eating into gig time, sure enough he eventually disappeared, then the obligatory last minute adjustments started in the dark. I remember chuckling to myself as Jo stated “For fucks sake, they’ve had all day to fiddle about with that stuff!” Then, thank the maker……..

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Waltzinblack, Toiler, Grip, you know the story. The band looked tired but they worked hard and played many of the standards, they made a rotten job of a couple but were totally forgiven, Skin Deep was dismal and really out of tune, Dave took the piss out of Baz on a number of occasions, which I had been told he’d done for the previous few gigs and Baz took the piss out of Australians and Brits alike, throwing in the odd Acca Dacca riff to demonstrate ”I can play fuckin’ anything me.” We watched people skate by on the multiple discarded beer bottles and laughed at the group next to us who firmly planted cotton wool in their ears when the lights went down. It wasn’t the best gig I’ve ever been to but it was still brilliant and we left sated. We steered the beast for Coffs Harbour, and home the next morning for one day at home before heading south to Adelaide.

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Thebarton Theatre – Adelaide

Early morning flight to Sydney followed by a short wait for our flight to Adelaide, nothing is close in Straya. Five hours later we’re in Adelaide, I really wanted to go to this gig as I’ve never been to South Australia. We arrive at our hotel and from the outside it looks like a lifesize prop from Gotham City, complete with Gargoyles, our room is on the tenth floor, it’s very luxurious and it’s black and white and we discover that there is a roof top bar…. Complete awesomeness. I found some amusement in sitting on top of a skyscraper, drinking a stout called King Kong while trying to balance on a bar stool overlooking the city.

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I had booked a few days in Adelaide to explore and I’m glad that I did, what a beautiful city, The City Of Churches. On Friday, gig day, we woke to the news that his royal purpleness, Prince, had died, the weather had turned and it was cold and pretty miserable. I did the sensible thing and booked a taxi to the pub nearest to the venue and after waiting for an hour in the cold and the rain for the invisible taxi, someone told me that it’s a waste of time booking a taxi on Friday or Saturday because they don’t turn up! Fortunately the boys in the hotel were onto it quickly and in no time we were whizzing along Henley Beach Road towards the venue, unfortunately we missed catching up with everyone at the pub as it was knocking on 7PM by the time we got there. There was none of the previous joviality outside the venue because the weather was nasty, Jo advised me “this is worse than queuing to get into a gig in England”, referring to the harsh weather. Twenty minutes later and we are inside, fantastic theatre, gloomy and old, just how I like them.

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Oh Nooooo, here we go again another nong with a laptop, this one looked like an extra from Waynes World but at least he was more animated, he walked about and flicked his long hair a lot whilst drinking from a bottle…. Talent or what????

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This geezer didn’t make us suffer as we had in Brisbane, an hour and a half and he was gone. Our cunning plan for being central to the stage came slightly undone when chromedome stinky appeared right in front of us with all of his bags and wind up mobile phone, it’s possible that Jo and I did not take more than a few breaths in 2 hours. Lights go down, Waltzinblack and the place was electric, it just had that buzz about it, it felt right. Toiler, Straighten Out, Grip, I’ve been Wild, Curfew (Andi et Al, sneaking about frantically on the stage)…. They’re smashing it, then, Jim’s drums spit the dummy and decide to part company with each other, the lights go up and people rush about the stage frantically Jim disappears for a while and Baz goes into comedy mode while repairs are made.

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Baz “People ask us if we bring all our gear on tour, you’re joking, it would cost a million fucking pounds to bring all of our shit to Australia, this is my guitar and that’s JJ’s guitar, come on show ‘em JJ, Dave brings a few bits and so does Jim, the rest is hired. Looks like we hired a shit drum kit though, it keeps falling apart”. Baz held it all together for a good five minutes while he and JJ treated us to a few short solos, even Dave chipped in with a few rare words on occasion, mostly aimed at mocking Baz. Then we’re up and running again……Relentless, Sleazy…. Firing on all cylinders and then some. 5 Minutes appeared in the set, as did Go Buddy Go in exchange for that eternal ‘crowd pleaser’ ADAAOTN.

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The announcement of GBG referenced pub rock, as it had on the B&W tour, but Baz threw in “You Aussies know all about that though, you probably fuckin’ invented it”. We finished with Heroes and could easily have gone another fifteen rounds. Then we all disappeared into the shadows, unaffected by the cold, warmed to the centre of our beings. To end my bit of the tour on such a high was all that I could ask for………… except maybe that they come back again next year, they know that they will pull a good crowd of ex-pats and with those of you mad enough to make the trek from the UK they’re always going to have fun.

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Thankyou and goodnight from the arse end of the world…. Who Wants It?

Meanie

Over…

Words and Pics: Meanie.

Bonus:

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7 thoughts on “Way Down Under… The Stranglers in Australia 2016 – A brace of reviews…”

  1. That was an excellent read! cant write my arse!!!!!
    I enjoyed every second and you were so right about skin deep. I had warned you that I thought it was bad in Sydney, didn’t get much better in Brissie. They should have dropped it the first time it didnt work. I managed only two gigs. The Sydney gig blew my mind. It was amazing. They made me feel young for a couple of hours. I left buzzing until we noticed we had missed the last ferry north. Like yourself the Brissie gig wasn’t the best, but some of the songs shone brighter than I had heard them before. I has made me want to do the full Oz tour should they return. I will start saving now just in case.

    1. Cheers Rab, I thought long and hard about doing the lot, but it was a logistical nightmare and would have cost a bomb. I think, if Sydney and Brissy had been the other way round, I would have done it probably.
      See you next time, for, maybe the whole tour.

  2. Meanie,
    A great read, thank you very much for sharing!
    I know several UK folks who made the trek to Australia for this tour, all reported a fantastic time. I myself considered it but the flight durations and the fares (from East Coast US) just seemed too much. Now, feeling a bit of regret. Well, maybe next time.

    1. I can completely empathise with you Anatoly, it eats away at you! We made the trek from Aus to the UK in 2014 for the 40th Tour because I just ‘ needed’ to be there. Tour time always makes me want to drop everything and fly home, but the reality is that I can’t, so the musings and experiences of people like yourself and my old mate eitc are incredibly important to me. Thank you to those who help me continue to feel included…..bless you all.

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