Guest Review – John Cooper Clarke – The Garrison – Toronto – 10th Sept 2015.

Guest Reviewer Maria Meli caught John Cooper Clarke’s recent show in Toronto…

John Cooper Clarke Review

Punk poet John Cooper Clarke at The Garrison, Toronto, September 10, 2015
(Rescheduled from the original May 15 & 16 dates at The Rivoli)

John Cooper Clarke 022

Self-styled “Dr.” John Cooper Clarke took the stage at The Garrison in Toronto after an audio intro hinting pomp and circumstance. Cocaine-thin, the lanky rhyme master looked even taller than he is, dressed in a tight-as-second-skin royal blue suit, white shirt, crochet blue tie and kid-smooth black shoe boots. How tight was his suit? One could see that the doctor dresses to the right. He sported black sun glasses, no doubt to ward off the blinding blue stage lights in the dark club. Indisputably, Dr Clarke has style!

He began by letting us know, due to the late hour of his arrival in the city, there was not enough time to submit a guest list in advance, so he was going to read it out, which he did – in verse – after first entertaining us with his wit and humour. The guest list was read from his dog-eared note book. All his verse is recorded there, regardless of later publishing or recordings.


His performance was a combination of older classics like “Beasley Street,” “Evidently Chickentown,” “Hire Car” and “Twat,” newer works like “I’ve Fallen in Love With My Wife,” and “Bed Blocker Blues” and his droll musings.

Clarke can poke fun at himself, and he shared a story about his old friends in Manchester commenting on how he’s gained weight since he stopped taking drugs. He’s downright obese now! He segued into a poem about this rotund, drug-free state – he’s still a skyscraper sliver – called “Get Back on Drugs You Fat Fuck.”

He shared his thoughts with the audience on many topics, for example, the temperature in Toronto.

“Who knew it went tropical in Canadia? [No typo, he said Canadia a few times.] Here down next to Mexico. Consequently, I’ve been sweating like a glass blower’s ass.”

“Did I ever get a wrong number,” he continued. “I even brought a parka. A snow parka!”


His tirade on relationships, definitely coloured by his acrimonious divorce with his first wife, included his thoughts on handling conflicts.

“If they really get upset with you, they give you the silent treatment … It’s worth putting in the extra effort.”

He was incompatible with his first wife. He shared that he’s an “Aquarian, while she’s an asshole.”

When asked if he’s a romantic, his reply is, “To a sadistic degree.”

Besides being blessed with humour and a quick wit, Clarke has a gift for impressions. He did channel, or perhaps “don,” the persona of an American mafioso (well, a mash of Bronxian and Brooklynese) several times during his performance.


He has matured and the topics he wants to comment on have expanded. In his preamble to “Bed Blocker Blues,” he opined how the health care system considers old people who have to be in hospital bed blockers. A seventy year-old with dementia is taking the spot that a 56 year-old father of four awaiting gender reassignment could be using. He tackled two current issues in one sentence and managed to inject humour into it.

After amusing the audience with a morbid limerick, which he didn’t write, but wished he had, he moved on to haiku.

He reviewed the basics: three lines, 17 syllables, structured in five, seven and five words. No deviation half a syllable either way.

“You know what the Japanese are like,“ he said. “There is no Japanese literal translation for the term ‘near enough.’”

Get it wrong, and it’s like spitting on your ancestors – then he would be obliged to eviscerate himself in a public place and he doesn’t want that to happen. He had to think carefully about it before attempting haiku. He thought if push came to shove, he could live with himself spitting on his ancestors, but he drew the line at eviscerating himself … however wavy.


He read six haikus in a random order, starting with Haiku #6 and ending with Haiku #1. Three of them follow:

Haiku #6
Smarter men than I
Have been total idiots
And I’ve met them all

Haiku #2
With patience and faith
You may catch your enemy’s
Funeral cortège

Haiku #4
With its golden pledge
of a pain-free existence
morphine makes me breathe

His penultimate poem was a more recent composition about his wedded bliss, called, “I’ve Fallen in Love With My Wife.” He then ended the set with “Evidently Chickentown.”

A short break and he was back for an encore and more storytelling.

Clarke divulged that he prefers the disabled bathroom as it is more “residential.” One can apply cosmetics. He used to have a Joan Jett hair style which needed maintenance. A man found him there and observed, “You don’t look disabled.” It was the best news Clarke had all week.
He liked him already. When the man asked what Clarke was doing in the disabled bathroom, he replied, “Keeping the dream alive.”

He ended the evening by reading “I Wanna be Yours,” the poem that Alex Turner liked so much, the Artic Monkeys recorded it.

After four decades, Clarke is still the scatological, original rebel he has always been, with a sharp wit and an “Up yours!” attitude. He has the timing of a comedic actor and the ability to spin a web that both captures and captivates the listener.

An anthology of his work titled Anthologia comprising both CDs and DVDs will be released on October 16th.


Words/Photos/Video: Maria Meli.



John Cooper Clarke 022sol

Gig Review – Straighten Out – The Hope and Anchor – London 12th September 2015.

Gig Review – Straighten Out – The Hope and Anchor – London 12th September 2015.

The Genuine Article?

Phil Menace

Arriving before we left, we found ourselves at our destination several decades ahead of setting out. Which was just as well, given the unpredictable, rambunctious nature of Sugar Tong Powered Travel.

Shaggy Pout

The Time was 1977. The place was The Hope and Anchor in Islington, London, UK. The reason was The Stranglers…

Mick 2

…Well, it was and it wasn’t!

You see, as any amount of finger tapping on the glass panel of the chronometer display failed to alert us to the contradictive nature of the collective experience currently responsible for the delusion under which we were labouring…


…Yes, the destination was the Hope and Anchor. But the time was not 1977 it was 2015! And, as it turns out, the reason was Straighten Out!

Straighten Out the UK’s Premier Stranglers Tribute band in London for the second of their biannual appearances at this legendary venue…

Phil Monkey

…The Hope and Anchor, newly refurbished back to its original configuration, with the stage at the rear of the venue and the bar at the front (as opposed to the vice versa arrangement of preceding years). Making better use of the tiny cellars acoustics and allowing more room for both band and reveller alike to do their respective things! While adding yet another layer of authenticity to the experience of the Sisters and Brothers of the Order of The Men in Black (SaBoTooTMiB) as they make their Autumnal pilgrimage to this venerated site…

Mick Grr

And so it was that the mass gathered to pay their respect to Phil, Shaggy, Mick and Micky as they dished out another blinder. (Having caught up with Shaggy earlier he informed me that a few surprises were in store tonight, not least no (Waltzinblack) intro and a new (much smaller) bass rig.)


Straighten Out took to the stage (sans intro) and proceeded to inform us (to our very delight) that tonight they would be performing Rattus Norvegicus in its entirety plus assorted other gems of the Strangler variety. Thus they blasted from Sometimes through Sewer with a skilful, spirited and sweaty ease. The crowd showed their appreciation by going bananas in a manner most befitting of such a fine display of craft, including but not limited to much dancing (including a strange phenomenon known as The Antler Dance), cheering, leaping, whistling, chanting and air keyboard/guitar/bass/drums. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house (due not to tears but to sweat).


And the sound, well it’s been said before but it’s still relevant – close your eyes and you could’ve been there in 1977! Mick’s keys sounding superb due to both their authenticity and his superb playing. Micky’s Drums tight and punchy, Phil’s Tele and Twin combo biting and (importantly) audible! And last but by no means least Shaggy’s physics defying bass – with his new ‘Tardis’ bass rig, he threw away the pint pot and managed to fit the quart into a thimble – out of which there came a huge growling, crunching take no prisoners Precision projection. All of which topped off with very accurate vocal deliveries from Phil, Shaggy and Mick plus a sprinkle of sparkling menace for good measure, made for much MiB Manna!

Mickey 2

Did I say they sounded good tonight? No, I meant they sounded F**king Sublime!

Mick 3

In a town near you…

Coming Your Way!

Miss at your peril – etc, Etc, EiTC…


Words and Photos: EiTC.


Sweaty Shaggy MickPMick

No Duchess No Tramp
No Duchess No Tramp

Arms bloggzone Connoretal crowd GL grain Timeto Di Dancer hands of divinity morecrowd2 morecrowd

Guest Review – Hugh Cornwell – Weyfest – 5th September 2015.

Guest Review – Hugh Cornwell – Weyfest – 5th September 2015.

Hugh Cornwell played at the Weyfest Festival in Surrey – Guildford Lil gives us the lowdown…


I was initially lured to Weyfest when the Stranglers played there in 2010. I was then so won over by this most civilised festival that I have been coming back every year since, seeing it as a chance for me to unwind and for my children to go feral. I purchased my ticket for this year back in October when none of the line-up had been announced. As the artists were gradually announced over the following months there were few that I knew and rather a lot that I had never even heard of. In mid-July came the announcement that The Troggs (yes, I’d heard of them) would not be able to attend and would be replaced by Hugh Cornwell. Bonus!


This isn’t a review of the entire festival but I have to mention that I went to see Inside Information play on the Old Kiln Stage. I was basing my decision on the flimsy connection to Hugh’s account of his time in Pentonville having the same title as the band’s name. I was surprised to see that the bass player was a former work friend of my husband’s. For a computer nerd he rocked pretty well and I stayed for several songs.


The other honourable mention of the weekend goes to the Charley Farley Sunday Four’s performance of Golden Brown. Always a delight and I am continued to be indebted to Mr Bloggs for passing on a recommendation to see them that he was given a couple of years back.

Weyfest was a little quieter this year than in previous years. This may have been down to a slight change to the weekend it was held which meant that the schools had already gone back but what the audiences lacked in numbers they continued to provide in enthusiasm.


At 18.20 on Saturday I joined the small group at the barrier of the Village Green Stage to enjoy the sound check and admire the Totem and Taboo banner that had been strung across the back of the stage. At 18.30 Hugh, Chris and Caz formally took the stage. They were well received and the audience swelled in numbers throughout the set. It was the familiar pattern of a solo song alternated with a Stranglers song. As expected T&T featured heavily (the title track, Stuck in Daily Mail Land, I Want One of Those, God is a Woman, Gods, Guns and Gays, A Street Called Caroll) with just Beat of My Heart thrown in for variety. Representing the Stranglers were Skin Deep, Dagenham Dave, Duchess, Strange Little Girl, Grip, Peaches, Straighten Out and an encore of Sleazy and No More Heroes.


The tunes were blasted out with energy and zest and received by the audience with gentle but keen, warm appreciation. Splinters were flying from the back of the stage and Chris finished up Daily Mail Land with about two thirds of one drumstick remaining. Hugh had bass levels tweaked at the beginning of the set and even JJ must have felt it during Peaches (although it was less prominent by NMH in my opinion). A Street Called Caroll didn’t pause before it was straight into Straighten Out. Was this truly a proper segue? A jury may decide in its favour another time.


Strange Little Girl produced the biggest crowd reaction when it started up. The Stranglers please note: no one was shouting for Golden Brown or Always the Sun and no one seemed to miss them. There were several calls for Nice and Sleazy and ultimately those punters were satisfied unlike the optimistic cry for Genetix from someone. Only a handful of Stranglers t-shirts had been in evidence during the day but along with them a lot of Weyfest regulars had chosen to wear their 2010 and 2013 t-shirts which bear the band name too. A friendly bunch. Hugh introduced songs at times and commented about how nice it was having a village green atmosphere but noted how cold it was “I was picking mushrooms last week, in August, not magic mushrooms, too early for those.”


A technical hitch almost lost us the encore that managed to get squeezed into the tight festival schedule (most of the bands appearing on the main Beekeeper’s Stage were denied an encore no matter how enthusiastic the audiences). Hugh returned to the stage to find his guitar strap was hanging off when he picked up the Telecaster. A quick search of the stage found the offending bolt (or whatever was required) and disaster averted. It was a short set, as expected, but the crowd left satisfied and I spoke with several people who were impressed.

Hopefully Hugh will return to Weyfest soon. Too much to hope for but Hugh Cornwell on Saturday and The Stranglers on Sunday? A girl can dream!

After a cold night I awoke to find that Chris Bell and Caz Campbell had pitched their mini camping corral next to my tent. I had to give in to temptation and have a chat. Chris confirmed that he was down to his last drumstick by the end of the set “must have been hitting something wrong” was his opinion. Meanwhile I can confirm that Caz still looks that good even early in the morning after a night in a tent, in case anyone doubted it, wf.


Words: Guildford Lil.
Photos: Gill Baglady.





Guest Review – The Stranglers – Tyntesfield – 14-8-15.

To bring the recent run of Stranglers gig reviews to a fitting conclusion and definitely forwards in going backwards, Gill Baglady recalls from her very own memory events from 14th August…

Guest Review – The Stranglers – Tyntesfield – 14-8-15.


Delightful review as always Agent IntheClouds.
(Thank you kindly Ma’am)

Last things first: on my return to south Devon I found the sky was the clearest that I have seen it for a long time, chasing thoughts of sleep away as I settled down to observe the Milky Way and a few spare Perseids shooting by. Magnificent.


Before that: exiting the croquet lawn via gently undulating paths lit with hundreds of tea lights in lanterns after a Stranglers gig, felt like a unique experience but one that I would be more than willing to repeat. A word of thanks to the kind staff and volunteers who not only lit all those candles but did not herd us away from the stage in a hurry, most genteel.


In the middle: a splendid gig brought to us by a familiar set of gentlemen who initially took the stage in jackets although their caution was unwarranted and the night clement.


Prior to that: Donkey Hot Pink who had come a long way. And possibly still had further to go. Ahead of them I caught only a couple of tracks from Howard in the Leaves. As Mr Warne commented, where do they get these names from? Random generator, perchance Sir? (Perhaps Ma’am, although someone may have missed a trick with the excellent device name itself! eitc Eitc EiTC)


Earlier: M5, thanks, excellent fuel consumption per mile at those speeds (got to look at the positives, haven’t we?)


Previously in the day: I was only permitted a small amount of wedding anniversary Prosecco, the price I had to pay but worth the trade off!

Words: Gill Baglady.

Photos: EiTC.


baz dave jim jj P8140942

Guest Review – The Stranglers – Warwick Uni – 15-8-15.

The Stranglers played Warwick Uni on 15-8-15…
Roving Guest Reviewer Mully tells all…


A couple of days before my departure to another Strangler’ gig in The Copper Rooms at Warwick University, an EasyJet e-mail to remind me of things to do in The Midlands, freaked me out as my flight time to Birmingham was much earlier than I initially thought. Anyway, once I’d double-checked my booking, rather than re-arrange my original plans, I decided to take in a visit to Birmingham Arts & History Museum before journeying to Coventry.

With a couple of hours to kill, I hurried through galleries that did not grab my attention (The Staffordshire Hoard left me bored, the Warhol exhibit a rip-off) and mused over some of the Egyptian/Roman/Greek archaeology. The 17th Century Baroque Art drew me – masterpieces by Carlo Dolci “St Andrew’s Prayers Before His Martyrdom” (with a self-portrait of the artist watching on) and Gentileschi’s “Rest On Flight To Eygpt” were particular highlights as were some Degas sculptures. Modern culture of Birmingham was represented with some wartime memorabilia, through to more recent period exhibits. I noticed a small display on Duran Duran, records, badges and concert tickets – which had been supplied by a ‘superfan’ – who had seen the band an amazing five times!! Five times – jeez, I had already seen The Stranglers five times in March!!


It was soon time to catch the train over to Coventry and a 30 minute journey left me a stone’s throw from my hotel – which also allowed me to check in a bit early. Pleasant enough accommodation and a couple of Strangler fans were already in residence. Dropped off my bags, unpacked – a quick wash and brush up left me ready to head into town. Before contacting Kevin, John and Tracy with a meet up point, I grabbed a fish and chip from a greasy take-away and sat in a sunny town garden to consume the said fare. Across the road was a freehouse, and so I texted the troops and arranged to hook up there before heading to the venue. Getting in a round of drinks, on a whim, I purchased a wee shot of Sambuca for a birthday boy at the table next to us – which was gratefully received, and led to the ladies in his company getting him a couple more!! Good luck to you later on mate!!


Steve H texted to let me know he was already on The Sun Terrace at the Uni Bar and Bryan messaged me (even though I didn’t see it) to inform us that the pre-gig BBQ social at Mark T’s had also progressed up to the venue. We finished off our drinks and caught a cab to take us there – eventually (after the foreign cab driver finally understood my accent!!). Disembarking from the taxi, a steady stream of Strangler T-shirts were converging from all directions towards the bar room and once inside with fresh drinks in hand, the greets, hugs and handshakes, general catch-ups with friends (many of whom I had only said good-byes to a month earlier!!) began. All the great and good were in attendance (with some notable exceptions who were missing in action – especially Audrey, who had a prior arrangement to see her son’s band Osmosis). As the beer flowed and Mother Nature’s nicotine additive ‘blowed’, all intentions of catching the support band went out the window, as the craic was just too good. God help the poor girls behind the S.U. bar as at one stage the queue for drink practically meandered out the door of the bar.

There were chats with three Steves and cuddles with Sharon,
Hugs with Isabella, Sandra and Karen,
Belfast memories with Bryan and Mark T,
Bazzainblack and dead ringer Billy B.
Keith with Dave, Mandy and Liz – catching up on all the biz.
Eileen and Julie, and talking to Matt
About small flying tigers and zoos and all that,
Paul and Alan, and Jacqui sans Owen,
Soon it’s time for Kev and Elaine to be goin’.
Hellos to Munros, Katie and Tony,
And Nikki and Sarah – and even friend Joni.
Pidge, Pete and Dave, Cathy and Martin
Back to John and Trace as the gig was soon startin’.

So it was into the venue and it wasn’t long before The Stranglers made their way on stage – kicking off with an immense version of ‘Toiler’. The low ceiling and pillared hall gave a limited view from where we were stationed, but the sound was good and at this stage that was all that really mattered. A set list change saw the inclusion of ‘Goodbye Toulouse’ – one of my all-time favorite Strangler tracks – absolutely love the killer guitar solo from this song. My night was already made. The band rocks on through ‘Grip’, ‘I’ve Been Wild’ and ‘Curfew’ – the crowd responding to the energy coming from the stage. By the time Golden Brown’ comes round, I am ready to depart for my obligatory smoke-break, but Bazza twists my arm into having a pint and so I watch the performance for the first time in an absolute age. With my drink in hand and after listening to another ‘new’ track – ‘Death’n’Night’Blood’, it is not until ‘Freedom Is Insane’ that I make my way to the smoking area door (just beside the stage). Outside, you can still hear the band play – if somewhat muted, so it ain’t too bad out here!! Back in during ‘Nuclear Device’, it wasn’t long before I was boogie-ing along to ‘Time Was Once….’. During ‘Duchess’ I reckon I could manage another quick sneaky cig in before the end, but once outside I bump into Bazza and we start talking to Arletta (who bizarrely works for the Royal Mail – you couldn’t make it up!!) and before long the encores have started. Bit confuddled by ‘Heroes’ being the last song of the set, then ‘Something Better Change’ and ‘Tank’ make up the ‘real’ encore tracks.


As the house-lights go up and everyone mingles for the post-gig ensemble, I meet up with a few people I had as yet not had the pleasure to encounter – Martin and his lovely wife Lyndsay (happy birthday again) but without young Elliott this time, and as I turn, I notice Pat – but before I can properly say hello – I only see my Belfast Belle, Bev. What a surprise – I was floored (literally) and this blew ‘Toulouse’ out of the water in making my night.


Back into the Uni Bar for further drinks and the revelry continues in earnest. I find myself on the comfiest seat in the house as the craic continues on into the wee small hours. Before long it is good-byes, handshakes and kisses, to see only eight remaining figures – Keith, Dave, Kev, Elizabeth, Mandy, Elaine, Mark and yours truly – taxi-less, drinkless and ready to head back into town. Luckily we are in Mark T’s company and he knows how to escape the rat-run maze of avenues in the campus. Although taxis had been ordered, we find ourselves roaming round the empty varsity and after various piss-stops (both male and female varieties!!) we find ourselves at the Security Hut. The staff order us a couple of cabs and we are soon on the road back to our respective hotels.


Sunday morning arrives all too soon, to find the sun once again splitting the trees and for me, an alcohol induced splitting headache. If you have read any of my previous tour reviews, you will know I often take in a trip to the local zoological gardens – this weekend was no exception. I had planned a late flight back home, hence allowing me the time to visit Dudley Zoo. A trip back to Brum on the train and a bus journey out to Dudley saw me dropped off outside the castle and surrounding park.


I was immediately on guard as I walked through the gates as the first thing I saw was a fun-fair – with dodgems, a crappy roller-coaster and various other rides. Not good. As it turned out, it was a zoo of two halves – one was a small dog menagerie (definitely a shit zoo), bored animals in concrete pits, poor maintenance and poor lay-out. The good parts included the Lemur Trail, the big cat collection – with breeding Lynx (the cubs playing with the mother brought a smile to my face), Snow Leopards and Sumatran Tigers – all looking healthy and their cages well landscaped. Usually I can spend all day wandering around a zoo, taking in all the enclosures a number of times, but today I was really disappointed and left after only a couple or three hours. Back into town in time to watch the footie in The Railway Bar and renew acquaintances with the cute barmaid from back on the March Tour.


Late flight back to Belfast completed another Strangler trip – eventually reaching home at 23:30 hrs. Tired, knackered but happy. Thanks to everyone for making this another memorable jolly – great company, great time and great friends…….
One more to go in 2015 – and it’s gonna be a messy one!!



Words: Graeme Mullan.
Photos: Karen Parfitt.

Bonus Animation:

Click Me!
Click Me!
Klick Me!
Klick Me!

Gig Review – The Stranglers – The Copper Rooms – Warwick Uni Coventry 15-7-15

Gig Review – The Stranglers – The Copper Rooms – Warwick Uni Coventry 15-7-15.

Tiffin at Mr T’s.

Departing the fine country air of Bristol we fired up the Sugar Tongs and aimed in the General Direction of Coventry. Arriving some time later…

There we headed off for Tiffin, where our wonderful hosts Mr and Mrs T provided a superb BBQinBlack to many a grateful (and some road-weary) PersonaeinBlack. Muchisimas Gracias!


Suitably fed and watered we ventured on to the amazingly huge and sprawling campus of Warwick University for tonight’s proceedings. For a meetup with most of the suspects from last night’s gig at Tyntesfield and many others including: Bazzainblack, Patm, Elizabethjt, Martin and Lyndsay (sans Elliot), Uncle Burn e 77 and The Legendary Pidge, toneinstoke, Alexo, PaulL,  Peterg, Jonif and Jadef, Jacq and Kath, Kev and Mully, StevenM, Adam and Jackie, Gareth and Nichola, Keithw and Davec, Dannyh, Sarah, Julie, Katie JJ, Purple Eileen, Little Chick and Salm, Simonp, TonyA, Peterg, Kat and Bill, Willyb, Steveh, etc Etc EiTC…




We made our way into the Copper Rooms in time to catch support act duo The Table Scraps, who in spite of obvious references to The White Strypes format wise, proceeded to deliver a blistering set which couldn’t (and didn’t) fail to win over any audience. TTS provided a solid passionate delivery of raw, honest rock and roll, with solid drums, superb guitar work, heartfelt vocals and a Theremin to boot! Check them out…


Stranglin’ Time:


In a huge contrast to the gentility of last night, we were hemmed in like super compressed sardines, a guarantee of huge sweaty stonkingness was therefore fulfilled.


Kicking off with Toiler we would all have been happy to have a repeat of last night’s set but this was not to be the case as SO was dropped in favour of a gargantuan Goodbye Toulouse (nice one Unc). While in the place of 5 Mins, we got a demon delivery of Death and Night and Blood.


A few were hoisted up on shoulders tonight including Sarah during Sleazy much to the delight of the two frontmen. In addition to being hoisted up some were hoisted over as on Relentless, which saw Keithw hoisted over and a quick improv from Baz as he changed the lyrics accordingly to something like – I Saw Geordie Keith Today being escorted away by security…


Song of the night for EiTC goes to the serious business of IFLAW!

In the place of Skin Deep the boys delivered a highly radioactive Nuclear Device. The main set was once more rounded out with NMH which saw Bazzainblack going OTT, providing a decoy destraction for security as Willyb successfully carried out a stage invasion, much to everyones surprise and amusement.


At the encore a very welcome return to SBC (12” extended remix) in place of ADAAOTN, before set closer Tank.
Top Stuff Indeed!


A quick trip into Coventry centre for a superb curry at Akbars restaurant and a most civilised end to another vintage day in black…


Words: EiTC.

Photos: BBQ – Mr & Mrs T, Balcony – Sharon Williams,
Photos: Colour Stranglers – Dave Higginson,
All others Photos: – EiTC.


P8151030 P1170094 P1170078P8151004P8151007P8151015P8151020P8151050P8151058

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Tyntesfield 14th August 2015.

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Tyntesfield 14th August 2015.

I Saw The Black!

Students of theology have on occasion pondered as to any heavenly connections there may be between certain mortals or earthly organisations and the skies themselves. Following a trail that led from Lymington to London, little to no clues were uncovered. After a tip off in the light of recent evidence revealed by a new interpretation of the ancient scrolls, all the signs pointed left. With this in mind the controls were set to the direction of the West. A meet up with Agent Bella saw us headed to the country manor Tyntesfield.


It was here in these grand surroundings that we encountered a gathering of the familiar black clad masses mingling with the Wax Jacket and Wellies set. Agent Baglady joined us seconded from her Devonian mission while also here tonight were: Shazzer, Mr T, Daveh, Sandra, Gizzard, Alm, Stevem, Nickyp, The pharbours, Karenp, Bryanh, Bradford John, (Al and JJ), Tanner and many others…


Whilst it may have been Divine intervention that held off the rain in Hampton, tonight bore further witness to the theory that the supreme alien is working with the Meninblack, as the clouds rolled back and the precipitation ceased, in order to enable tonight’s entertainment to proceed.


Support acts Howard and The Leaves and Donkey Hot Pink (?) did their utmost to warm up the crowd and in a flash we were at 9:30 and Waltzinblack.

A rather serious and Stern looking Stranglers made the stage and kicked off with Toiler on The Sea and with the crowd on side their mood soon changed as the smiles slowly began to appear on their faces. The set was similar to the earlier summer mini tour dates with Straighten Out, Grip, I’ve Been Wild, Curfew, Relentless, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Golden Brown, Always The Sun, 5 Minutes, Freedom Is Insane, Time To Die, Norfolk Coast, IFLAW, Skin Deep, Peaches, TWOOMS, Lost Control, Duchess and NMH rounding out the main Set. After a short break the encore consisted of ADAAOTN and Tank.


The boys were on their usual good form sounding tight and seeming up for it. The fresh country air clearly worked for Baz as he went into overdrive on the banter front. His summer recess elocution lessons having paid for themselves tonight alone, with his perfect BBC English rambling throughout – alluding to their butler Pinkington-Smythe shooting anyone found in the ‘Growing Patch’ and being on The Croquet Lawn for example and especially on Peaches, where this persona controlled the latter half of the song. During grip we got – The air out here is really nice I don’t want to go inside!…

While the crowd were fairly civilised there was a little cheesecloth exfoliation from the Johnny Sox fans etc Etc EiTC…

Verdict: – A top night out in the middle of nowhere, must do it again some time Old Bean…

Words and Photos: EiTC.


P8140926 P8140938

Guest Review – The Stranglers – Holmfirth Picturedrome and Blackburn King Georges Hall – July 2015

Guest Review: Stranglers Mini Tour July 15 – Holmfirth and Blackburn according to Mully…


Holmfirth Picturedrome and Blackburn King Georges Hall – July 2015

An uneventful flight from Belfast to Liverpool early Wednesday morning found me awaiting the arrival of my lift and gig buddy for another two Strangler gigs on that wee island off the coast of Ulster. Sat waiting, I contemplated e-mailing Mr Roget (he of the Thesaurus fame) to propose an addendum to his published tome – the insertion of Kevin Nacey under “kind-hearted, generous, princely, etc…” For the second year in a row, Kev has picked me up from the airport, driven to two gigs and ferried me back for the return flight – what a star. All that and having to put up with me as well!! But before I could compose such an e-mail, the man himself pulled up in his black BMW and after man-hugs and other catch-up greetings, my baggage was secured in the boot and we were off.

Anyway, we are soon on the road to Holmfirth – a very pleasant drive up hill and down dale, the not too hot sun shining, taking our time and enjoying the scenery through some beautiful picturesque villages. Eventually we arrive at our destination – The White Horse Hotel/B&B – a quaint family run hostelry nestled in the Yorkshire countryside on the banks of a babbling stream. Booked in, bags deposited in our rooms we await the arrival of the missing third of our tour triumvirate – the legend in Strangler gig-dom – Elaine Smith.

All too soon the Big Three, the Crucial Three, the Three Little Gigs-goers (or more likely The Three Stooges) are once again re-united as a taxi pulls up and emerging from the back seat, a hand clutching a giant Strangler poster from last night’s venue is followed by the lady herself. In the hotel bar, after a couple of pints and after getting changed into gig-gear, Elaine organises a taxi to take us into town – which felt like a trip with Postman Pat, as the taxi wended its way through the narrow streets of the Holmfirth metropolis. I wouldn’t say it was all hills, but I think I saw Ranulph Fiennes and a couple of Nepalese Gurkhas setting up a base camp by the side of the road.

jj baz

Deposited at the venue, we cross the road and make our way to The Bridge Inn to meet up with any like-minded people for the pre-gig social. Dandering along towards the bridge to The Bridge (no doubt hence the name), my first encounter (of many) that day was none other than young Elliot – standing out from the crowd, smiling from ear to ear. I had met this young man back in our hotel after the Preston gig last year with his Mum Lindsay and Dad Martin (and I didn’t even see them standing there too) until after Elliot and I had caught up again. I have known a few ‘Strangler Kids’ going to gigs with their parents – but this boy is different gravy. He possesses an near encycolpedic knowledge of the band and you can tell when talking to him it isn’t just cos his Dad is a fan – you can talk Stranglers with Elliot and not feel condescending or patronising. Early on in the day and this catch up had me buzzing with excitement already.

Heading bar-ward (I mean it was getting on half an hour since our last pint) and I bump into Jim Mac having a quiet pint outside the bar. Had a quick chat with him and got the inside track on Coventry’s support act, Table Scraps – sounding good and friends of Jim’s – must make the effort to catch them. As we were joined by Rikki and after more (Versace) smiles and catch ups, I eventually make it into the bar. Liquid refreshment in hand, Kev, Elaine and myself make our way to the tables outside There we are joined at various stages and via various rounds of cider and beer by Billy Barr, Mark T, Pete G, Julie, Eileen, The Munro’s, Matt & Karlos. Sitting in the sun, downing alcohol – the craic was ninety – stories told and re-told, jokes and japes – highlight being Mark bringing out the bar’s ‘Ring For Attention’ notice for poor Billy (who will never live the Belfast Bell(e) experience down). If I thought meeting up with Elliot was a pleasant surprise – when I bump into John & Tracy (another Preston meet) today’s social rocketed into stratospheric heights.

jim dave baz

Kev and I depart for greasy chip shop fare as others order food from the cuisine on offer at The Bridge. Once fed and (re)watered, the hardcore infantry maneuver to take up their offensive positions on the barrier whilst the cavalry decide to decamp to The Nook where other ‘family’ have congregated. Rounding the corner of the narrow alley leading down to an enclosed courtyard, there larger than life – Dave Colton, with Phil, Mandy and Elizabeth – amongst others. Dave was surprised to see me – and with Phil there, it was another Big Three – a third of The Pavillion Nine. Who was it sang ‘Three Is The Magic Number’? – I think they might have been onto something there !! More imbibing and hilarity (even a tickin’ sandwich) takes place until it is time to ride into action and charge into the breach.

Holmfirth Picturedrome is a class venue – tight, double balcony all-round the rectangular room, with a sloping floor to give everyone a good view of the stage and a slightly raised rear platform with a bar and where the merch had set up. Without too much effort even after missing the support act, I was able to make my way up to the front just behind Kev, Elaine et al and met a few others who I hadn’t seen earlier.


The lights dim, the intro music blasts out and the crowd cheering heralds the start of the concert. Even now, after years of attending Strangler gigs, there seems to be a tangible excitement fizzing in the air as ‘Waltzinblack’ is played and the band walk onstage. Kicking off as they did in Belfast with ‘Toiler..’ the instant rumbling, thunderous bass intro gets the crowd moving and as JJ rocks back and forth to the rhythm, the rest of the band join in. The first three songs (there’s that number again) – ‘Toiler..’, ‘Straighten Out’ and ‘Grip’ blow everyone away. The energy levels are kept topped up with ‘I’ve Been Wild’, but just as I’m readying myself for ‘Four Horsies’ – a personal highlight of the March On Tour – the band play ‘Curfew’ instead. By the time ‘Golden Brown’ starts with a drumbeat similar to a Parades Commission ruling back home, I depart the front for the obligatory smoke break. Very few smokers in Holmfirth – there is just me and one other guy, but as any other nicotine addicted leper will tell you, we always spark up conversations and this guy regaled tales of all the bands he had seen over the years here and was amazed I’d came over from Belfast tonight to see The Stranglers.

Back in just in time for ‘Five Minutes’, but rather than returning to the front, I mooch towards mid-centre and through to a more sedate position and watch the remainder of the show from there. ‘Time To Die’ with its sing-along “der-ner ner-ner-ner” guitar section always gets me. At one stage Baz commented on giving a prize for the best haircut – usually awarded to a middle-aged baldy bloke, but tonight he highlighted Eileen’s purple dyed coiffure, but cheekily added a purple rinse/parma violet joke. He was beckoned over and as he bent down to hear what she had to say, was forcibly thrust betwixt her bosom – much to his surprise and obvious delight. Tonight’s other highlights include ‘TWOOMS’ – really digging this one and following that , Baz’s extended guitar improv into ‘Lost Control’ (is it me, or does that vary each night?) allows the rest of the band some breathing space and a chance to catch their breath. ‘Duchess’ and ‘Hanging Around’ raise the energy levels just at the peak – the crowd singing and dancing and pogo-ing to the climax of the set. Thank you’s and goodnight – but we all know there is still the encores to come. Still too much bonhomie for me, but I do understand the showbiz side needs attending to and then ‘Walk On By’ goes off into it’s psychedelic overdrive, Warwick on acid, glorified best. As JJ steps up to thump his Shuker and sonically reduce the crowds internal organs to mush, we know it will be the last song as ‘Heroes’ starts – the bass intro acting like a fuel injected carburettor – as the crowd erupt into a bouncing throng. The ending leaves everyone on a high – it’s just the bows, the thank you’s and offstage.

jim dave

Elliot manages to purlion Jim’s drumsticks (promised from before) and Baz’s sweaty towel (rather you than me pal), as the set-lists are distributed to the grabbing hands of fans. The family gather to debrief, meet-up, get some photos taken and then we debunk into the arena’s other bar area for liquid replenishments and the post-gig comedown. New friends were introduced to old and even more alcohol consumed. As the group steadily dwindled, the three last one’s standing ordered ourselves a taxi back to The White Horse and bed. That is of course after Elaine did her best Nora Batty impression getting into her room.

Another day, another morning and another gig. Post breakfast, whilst awaiting Kev to get out of his kip, I asked our landlady where I could grab a packet of cigarettes – “About half a mile up the road” she replied. Setting off I started up the hill – half way up altitude sickness started kicking in and Mr Fiennes waved hello from his tent. Twenty cigs successfully purchased and a bottle of Lucozade downed, I made the reverse journey back down – only this time I think it was the bends that kicked in as I descended too quickly. Thinking about it now, it may just have been my hangover that was affecting me!!

By my return, both Kev and Elaine were ready to rock and roll and as we packed our bags into the car Mark T & Pete drove up, stopping for a quick chat. Then we were off again, destination Blackburn and the Grand Hall for yet more Strangling and socialising with like-minded people. A reasonably short trek had us arriving a bit early for check-in, so we passed the time next door in the pub for another early start on the pints – but I was on my holidays – so all was forgiven. Fed, watered and after a forty-winks in our rooms, we re-entered the bar and once again the pre-social meet’n’greet began as more and more Strangler T-shirts started to fill the pub. Julie had arrived and introduced us to Paul and Simon. Barry Spooner and fellow Nottingham punk associate arrived – it is always good to ruminate over all things punk and Strangler related with Barry – the merit of bootleg recordings and green vinyl records were discussed in great depth – and allowing me respite from the idiot indoors. John rang to see where we were meeting up and the general consensus was The Jubilee pub, just opposite the venue (despite the review it was given by the cab driver).

We were almost the first fans in this pub – only another couple playing pool had beat us – but soon the numbers increased and it wasn’t long before John, Tracy, Mark and Mike had joined the company – also met up with John H for the first time. I thought I hadn’t packed the SLF soapbox, but it wasn’t long before it made its appearance – just because I am from Belfast does not automatically mean I am a fan and it didn’t take long before I was rhyming off the long list as to why this K-Tel brand of Punk was not for me. I do understand why other people do like The Stiffs, I really do, but that’s their choice. Now RUDI on the other hand….. Anyway, the message came forth that doors would be closing in 15 minutes and once they were closed no-one was getting in. Obviously the barrier crew had already ventured over early, so we hurriedly made our way across and in through the Grand Hall’s grand doors, down the stairs and into the room for tonight’s gig. However, just before I go through I bump into Les – I’d forgot this gentlemaninblack was coming down from Bonnie Scotland – and he had young Paddy Vex in tow as well.

jbaz - bb

A bit harder to wend my way forward tonight but manage to get up close enough. Same set as last night to start – but the crowd were more tightly packed, more eager for the mosh and the heat generated was rapidly rising. Disappointingly, once again ‘Four Horsemen’ was omitted, but the first section flew past in the blink of an eye and the heat was still rising. ‘Golden Brown’ allowed me some respite as I departed for a well-earned smoke break. Exiting the hall, I look for the smoking area and eventually asked one of the security men where it was situated – “T’aint any”. So we go outside the front then? “No, doors are shut” WTF? No smoking area!! Jeez. I make my way back inside, but there is little chance of making it back to my original position – I find a sweet spot, good view of the stage and a gentle draught coming from the bar area. I remain here for the rest of the show, chewing gum like a speed freak.


There is a lot of banter tonight between the crowd and Baz. Someone shouted out “Geordie c**t” and I’m not sure which part of that comment offended him the most as he retorted he was neither. We also heard how allegedly a young JJ asked his parents for a Blackburn Rovers strip, to which the crowd responded with chants of “Shearer, Shearer” and Baz dryly quipped “Now he is a Geordie c**t”. The rest of the set careered towards the close – the heat was truly stifling, but the audience remained in overdrive. Overall I preferred Holmfirth but it was a close call. Probably due to either the heat, the ‘pit-stops to catch breath and the amount of banter – or a combination of all three, but only one encore was played tonight as ‘Walk On By’ is dropped, leaving only the climax of ‘Heroes’ to sate the baying crowd.


And that was that. I didn’t hang around too long to say my goodbyes as I needed a smoke – however, there was plenty of time to gather and mingle outside as everyone needed cooling down too. After catching up with a few old friends, most crossed back into The Jubilee to quench our thirst and still there was time to make new acquaintances as Danny and I were chatting before realising we were friends on Facebook – always good to put a face to the name you ‘virtually’ conversed with via the interweb. So that was another trip coming to a close and after a bit of a diversion to escort Sarah part-way to her hotel, we meet up with some other gig-goers at a pub in town. It was here we managed to get a taxi back to our hotel and the sanctity of our beds.

j jj - bb

Leaving early the next day, Kev drops the girls at Blackburn train station and me in Liverpool town centre. I had some time to kill until my flight home to Belfast, but knowing Liverpool and having been given some directions to interesting record and collector shops in town, I managed to fill the time well enough. In fact I spent so much time in town, I had to get a taxi up to the airport to ensure I made my flight!!

My seventh and eighth gigs of the calendar year were completed. Different from the March On Tour – the sound was better, the band were tight as a gnat’s chuff, but the set lists in March were much more challenging for the audience and with that more entertaining. That said, I wouldn’t have missed the last two days – the great company, great camaraderie and great craic – the three C’s. Thank you one and all – probably missed loads out, but I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at how many brain-cells were drunk away over the two days and nights. It was only a shame some of the other ‘regulars’ were not in attendance – but I still have a further two gigs this year to catch up with them again.

Laters crocodiles – keep it greasy.

One love



Words: Mully.

Photos: Theantro/EiTC.


Gig Review – The Stranglers – King Georges Hall – Blackburn – 16th July 2015.

Gig Review – The Stranglers – King Georges Hall Blackburn – 16th July 2015.

Northern Road Trip Journal – Day 4

Oh Boy!

A short jaunt from there to here and if our Northern road trip has taught us anything it’s taught us something!


Blackburn doesn’t always get the greatest of press but the impression it left upon us was, for the most part, very positive. Surrounded by a beautiful landscape, the city itself is not without its own attractions…


On arrival we follow a fellow fan (davew) whose bumper stickers show we share two passions, one being a Raven, the other – Sons of The Desert.


In town we meet up with many familiar faces both from the last few days and further back. A quick stroll around town eventually finds us at the charming Molloys pub for super sustenance at incredible value.


On to tonight’s venue, St Georges Hall, and locals share stories of the impressive line-up of gigs they’ve been to here over the years. It’s a very grand and somewhat imposingly impressive edifice!  Inside, it’s smart and cool with what feels like air-con but was probably in fact ambient temperature. Proceedings tonight, take place inside the Windsor Suite, a space slightly wider than it is long.


We take up our positions for viewing in time to catch an impressive set by support act Peace Talks who proceed to deliver a set of material which is gloriously noisy yet melodic.


There is rawness to their sound yet simultaneously a sense of refinement – with solid drums (Miles) and bass (Ryan), contrasting harmonic and at times dissonant layers of guitar (Danny and Calum), complimented by heartfelt vocal (Calum).


There is a sense of fun about them and they are having a blast up there tonight, which is clearly appreciated by the audience, who charitably sing happy birthday for front man Calum.


The crowd pack in tighter as Waltzinblack announces that it’s time for some antics in black. Starting with Toiler on The Sea the sound is very good and the band on fine form.


The set is very similar to previous nights with Curfew in the place of Four Horsemen once more etc Etc EiTC…


Up close and Personal the conclusion…


The crowd are packed tighter than a pack of very tight things and the temperature is rocketing. The boys are on fire both metaphorically and literally (well you know what I mean). During Nice and Sleazy JJ and Baz leave the stage and get involved with the audience once more, in an impressive pincer movement which concludes front and centre, where we happen to be standing, with Baz getting in our face and JJ getting a face full of Sarah before returning to the stage for the song’s conclusion.


At one point Baz spots Spooner and gives him a personal serenade (Happy Birthday Mr S!)… Dave and Jim are on fine form also tonight. The heat continues to rise. Baz’s banter sees him teasing the locals once more. The sweat is pouring from everywhere as the heat rises further. Worse places to be was something about Blackburn but unfortunately I missed it tonight while interacting with the crowd (comments please…).


So in summary, tonight was a marvellous conclusion to our four day jaunt around the beautiful north. The Stranglers and The Family go from strength to strength!


And it continues… The following morning at breakfast we meet up with Greatkudu and compare notes on a brilliant gig.

Now for some R&R of the other sort!


Words: EiTC.

Photos: Karlos and Matt.


Clickez vous
Clickez vous

P7163544 P7163550 P7163467

Click me
Click me

P7163538 P7163539 P7163555 P7163551

Dont get animated - click
Dont get animated – click

Gig Review – The Stranglers/The Killer Meters – Holmfirth Picturedrome – 15th Jul 2015

Gig Review – The Stranglers/The Killer Meters – Holmfirth Picturedrome – 15th Jul 2015

Northern Road Trip Journal – Day 3

I Dream of Nora Batty in Black

Rising on a beautiful Yorkshire summer morning we set the Sugar Tongs for Holmfirth…


Up hill and down dale with relative ease and much scenic eye-candy, we eventually arrived at the fair town of Holmfirth to find that it had been handed over to the Family in Black for the day.


Pulling around the first bend into town we saw Mr and Mrs black on track standing on the corner. Parking and taking a quick recce, we then proceeded toward the venue where we encountered; Megabus Elaine, Pop-up Pete, Mr T, Mully, Kev, Al-and-Sal, Elliot, Lindsay and Martin and numerous others.

Then, suddenly, after calling in on Nora Batty to find no-one home, we were in India for pre-gig tiffin. We returned to Holmfirth, joining the queue for the gig. Tonight’s venue The Picturedrome last played host to The Stranglers in 2009, since then a little refurbishment has taken place and most importantly the entrance for gigs is now at the rear instead of the front, which caused a little confusion for a few of us, nothing major though. We made our way inside to say hello to the usual suspects up at the barrier.


Before too long support band The Killer Meters took the stage announcing “We’re The Killer Meters, we’re from Yorkshire and we sound like this!” as they kicked in to set opener Can’t Help It.


They delivered a set of high energy R&B which quickly won the audience over.


Material ranging from their 1977 single “Why Should It Happen To Me?” (and this is a slow one, well as slow as we get – Cardiac Arrest) to a brand new first airing of a new number about getting married at 60 and a song about their beloved scooters (of the Lambretta veriety).


A first class performance from an excellent band!


A quick set redress, lights out, Waltzinblack and bam! Toiler On The Sea.


The sound was very loud and very clear from my vantage point on JJ’s side of the stage. We were bathed in the bass!


The band were once more on a form most exceptional! Tight yet at ease, with a great sense of fun and especially tonight – mischief and menace in abundance.


A change to the set tonight as we got the awesome Curfew in place of Four Horsemen, would have preferred to have both but hey etc Etc EiTC.


Up close and personal again…

The camera pit betwixt stage and barrier was filled with flight cases tonight, so no room there for photographers or security. A rather large specimen of a security guard was sitting on the edge of the stage in front of Mr Burnel due to these space constraints. JJ teasingly danced right up to the back of his head and landed perilously close to him several times during some of his many stage leaps.


Baz complimented the local town and venue tonight, while his banter was on top form once again. We had a clear winner in the up close and personal stakes as he picked Purple Eileen as the winning hair style of the evening. Then he leapt off the stage on to the flight cases and walked over to Purple Eileen before nestling his head in her bosom (almost taking megabus Elaine and myself out with his headstock to boot, not that we were bothered), top notch! In another episode he teased the audience, at one point offering Mr Munro out for a fight, before they kissed and made up…


Breaking news, in a rarity of some note – worse places to be was actually – on the end of a skewer – tonight. More Baz and JJ fun as they huddled centre stage checking out a tiny thong that had been thrown their way. Baz cracked about their lack of soiling saying that they still had the price tag 2.99 C&A, further joking about this possibly being some kind of direction like L&R etc Etc EiTC…


Sound and performance was spot on once more. The newer material is fitting like a glove. Lost Control was particularly stonking tonight with all the anger and angst and the super sub bass (one young lady was heard to murmur, that song has a direct link to my clitoris…). And in a flash Hanging Around signalled the end of the main set…


For the encore we received the Walk On By treatment. Then JJ’s turn to leap on the flight cases, more extreme bass, No More Heroes and goodbye…

For the post-gig social we stayed in the lovely Picturedrome bar until the wee small hours!


Words: EiTC.

Photography: The Antro.


DSCF3110 P7153303 P7153304

Click for Animation
Click for Animation

P7153364 P7153294 IMG_8170

Click for Nora Batty
Click for Nora Batty
Click for Hello Chicken...
Click for Hello Chicken…