Stranglers and Bad Manners – Bands In The Sands, Perranporth, Cornwall, 21st July 2017

Sand!

 Miles and miles of sand!
 In every direction sand, sand, sand, sand, sand and more sand!
 The weary travellers settled in this barren desert…
 Hope was on the horizon, was that the sea or just a mirage?

 But wait!
 This just in…
 A superb round-up of events from last Friday in Cornwall… 

Over to our crew on the spot –
 Elliot, Martin & Lindsay…


Going to Cornwall to see the Stranglers was a fair way to drive for us from Scotland but given the chance for dad to see his band and re visit childhood holidays he was up for it. We travelled through torrential rain wondering if indeed there would be a gig at all. No worries though, we arrived and the weather changed to glorious sunshine. A few pre-gig drinks with dad and Lindsay and it was off to the beach. After standing the queue for quite some time we finally managed to grab more drinks and take place on the steel barrier at the front. We were joined by Audrey and Sandra then Matt, Karlos, Philip and Mark Taylor. Dad met up with Mark Davies who had travelled from Australia with his family.


The first support act was Sarah Marie with her guitar followed by Chris Haddon who I secretly enjoyed the most out of the two so far…


Up next was buster blood vessel and Bad Manners did all their well-known tunes like lip up fatty, my girl lollipop, walking on the sunshine etc. which seemed to go down well with the crowd, everyone was pushing and shoving each other while tipping the other person’s beer out of their hands. There seemed to be a couple of issues at the front but no matter as the security were good and soon after it started to rain and drizzle for a bit.


The classic Waltzinblack soon struck the stage again and the crowd seemed to be in full voice tonight with great enthusiasm suddenly the meninblack graced the stage and I noticed instantly how tall JJ is, standing in such a little venue!

JJ showed us just how cold it was up there on stage as he gave off a shivering pose… Toiler was the opener of the night and what a cracking opener it is, with its instrumental start which got a great reception from the fans.

Next up a brilliant Grip, off their first album Rattus marking its 40th birthday, followed by an equally brilliant Nice ‘N’ Sleazy. Relentless off Suite XVI then the ever threatening Five Minutes before slowing down for the core fan hits ‘Golden Brown and Always the Sun (which had totally gone by now).

Norfolk Coast had the crowd raring to go and start jumping again before a perfect Peaches on the beach to top off…

The new song of the amazing and brillant March – ‘Classic Collection’ tour – Bear Cage was included and good as ever with the crowd chanting along to GMBH, hit every note perfectly while JJ stared across towards us during it in full concentration mode (new to the set – old song etc Etc EiTC).

Walk On By next and the crowd loved it with the sheer and utterly brilliant musical instrumental part. Next up was Skin Deep great hit by the band from 1984, then another new song not played live before the tour back in March – 15 Steps! from Giants. A song they played very well considering there was a few times the timing was out but still sheer class brilliant underdog tune (Didn’t notice timing issues but agreed this song is really sounding great live now they’ve settled into it a bit, EiTC).

Then back to the old hits next, we have Duchess off The Raven, and the awesome Hanging Around, followed by a great JJ vocal, sung in full voice – Something Better Change the smash punk hit from ‘77 off No More Heroes, which is also marking its 40th this year also.

Then things got even more sped up as we were treated to the fabulous Tank, or Tank!! (As Hugh says) which I think is a brilliant song and very glad they put that in the set. It went down with the fans as well as it started to get a bit rowdier at the front but never the less all good fun on the beach but I hardly even knew as I was totally focused on JJ’s bass (which was just in front of me!).

Then the mind-blowing bass solo into the finale No More Heroes as the last song of the night to end in a bang which everyone loved as per. The crowd walked (or staggered) away with smiles and enjoyment which certainly proved the meninblack made them a very happy bunch. The lads played excellent and Baz even handed a little lad, Nick his plectrum!! Awesome eh, it was his first concert also and won’t be his last I’m sure!

We all walked away feeling rather cold as I only had my t-shirt and shorts on, now wishing I had come more prepared but I guess there’s always another time! Glad to have seen them and hopefully see the Meninblack and Familyinblack soon to do it all over again!!!

Best Wishes Everyone!!!

Over…

Words: Elliot, Martin and Lindsay.

Pictures: Audrey Grant and Karlos Antrobus.

Bonus Audrey:


Bonus Karlos:


Bonus EiTC:

Gig Revew – The Stranglers, The Damned, SLF, Green Day, The Hives – BST Hyde Park – 010717

So, a little scene setting…

…An outdoor concert in Hyde Park in the summer with The Stranglers and The Damned on the same bill…

Count me in!

Tickets purchased.

But of course, that’s only half the story…

And talking of halves, my better one and her progeny were in as keen enthusiasts of headline act Green Day. Sweet!

Then a last-minute addition to the bill Stiff Little Fingers. Fab!

As the days drew us closer to the event, information started to trickle down about who would be playing on which stage at what time etc. A little further research revealed that we would not be able to take our own food or drinks, which for me put a little damper on things (being locked in as a captive audience and being at the mercy of the vendors of whatever over-priced (slop) refreshments may or may not be on offer). Then there were the emails from the promoters about upgrading our tickets to various levels of VIP tickets at extortionate amounts. Urgh! The shine began to wear off a little for me. (However, this was only to be temporary!) I began to feel a little less enthused at the prospect of being a captive participant at an event where the entertainment I was really looking forward to seeing were playing short sets, if I could get anywhere near them, while the rest of it had me less than enthused…

Flash forwards in time to the day itself:

After a Saturday morning of catching up with chores for me and removals and deliveries for DiBDaB, we made our way by train and tube to Bond Street and took a slow stroll to Hyde Park on a fine Summers Day. We ate our lunch on the grass then proceeded to enter through the peasant’s entrance.

So far so good, smiley happy people including the gate staff and security. More friendly faces all around as we made our way toward the front of the main stage in time for Stiff Little Fingers, only to be met by an obstruction in the form of a barrier, this far and no farther it seemed. The masses had settled for this while the people at the front in the fenced off area stretched their legs for a decent view. Then a chance conversation with a friendly marshal brought to our attention that anyone could get down to the front if they got there before all the passes were handed out. So, that’s what we did. Which afforded us a good vantage point from which to view SLF and The Damned. The day got a little better.

Stiff Little Fingers took to the main stage kicking off with the mighty Suspect Device and somehow managed to shoe-horn; Just Fade Away, At The Edge, Nobodies Heroes, Roots Radicals and Rockers, Barbed Wire Love, Strummerville, Tin Soldiers and Alternative Ulster – or thereabouts in to a half hour (methinks Jake Burns might know a thing or two about sugar tongs and time travel). So, the long and short of it was that they were bloody superb and warmed up the crowd – young and old alike – very well.

A short break and then Croydon’s finest took to the stage – The Damned in fine fettle; what with the Captain all upright and on his own two feet, the freshly shorn DV all vampiric, dapper and cool, Stu ready to inspect tickets in his BR garb, Pinch the picture of cool with slicked hair and shades and the descriptively defiant Monty brilliantly being Monty! A quick how do and down to business with a stonking set opener in the form of Love Song. A quick mention to the Young Ones and it’s Nasty great energy. Staying with the N’s next for Neat Neat Neat which was nice!

Then a sideways tangent as an extra mic is brought on stage and they’re joined by the trumpet player (Chris Coull?) for Grimly Fiendish, superb. And he stays on for fine rendition of Eloise, which has the crowd pleased.

Into overdrive for performance and crowd participation next as we’re treated to the slice of brilliance that is Ignite – oh whoah oh oh!…

Back on with the trumpet for Alone Again Or – Fab! (Another great choice as far as I’m concerned although that’s two covers in what is a short set but along with GF these songs do of course represent three hit singles, personally when I saw the trumpet was present I was really hoping for Twisted Nerve but that’s just being extra picky etc Etc EiTC)

The stage craft was immaculate as Captain played a blinder and insulted one and all in his usual jovial manner. Dave glided from side to side covering the whole stage while holding the crowd in the palm of his hand. Pinch and Stu were rock solid and cool. While Monty did what Monty does.

On which subject, New Rose next, stonkingly delivered by all concerned with Monty’s mighty moves impressing one and all!
Time for one more – Smash It Up. Smashing indeed!

And then they were gone with the big screens announcing that tickets for the 2018 UK Tour go on sale this Friday 7th July. Catch ‘em if you can folks!

Great to see them in this setting with a good crowd and all the trimmings – big screens etc…

We hung around for The Hives next. While I’d heard the name, they were somewhat of an unknown quantity for me. The stage was meticulously prepared and lines were checked. Then out they came in their impressive asymmetrical black and white outfits. Not really qualified to talk about their music which was very good – in a dual guitar driven rocky punky kind of way – but man what a show! Vocalist Per(?) was straight off the stage and into the crowd on the first number where he spent almost as much time as he did on stage (or so it seemed). The attitude and showmanship of the band was really in your face in a way that you couldn’t ignore, most effective! Crazy, dangerous, exciting and well worth catching live!

Then it was time for lunch and the anticipation of disappointment turned into pleasant surprise as we found there really were plenty of outlets to suit most dietary requirements.

Suitably fed and watered, we went and watched a bit of Rancid on the big screen which was worth a look before making our way to the other stage in time to catch the end of the set given by The Living End – very impressed – great musicians and super performers, shame we didn’t catch a little more.

We hung around this stage a little more and chatted to the like-minded souls gathered for the main event Then…

Waltzinblack signalled the arrival of The Stranglers, as we headed toward the front in time for the opening bars of 5 minutes super dooper!

And they kept the pace going with a perfect Grip before bringing it to steady cruise with Nice and Sleazy, menace O’ clock!

Relentless next and suddenly I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders…

…but then I looked up and saw that it was in fact Billy perched atop them enjoying an elevated view!

The crowd were the liveliest I’d seen all day for any act and this would hold true for the whole event!

But of course, then it was slow down – Golden Brown – flawlessly delivered with the crowd swaying along.

More menace in the shape of Peaches with worse places today being the United States of America.

The superb addition to this year’s set which is Bear Cage, long overdue until now but hopefully a stayer, as the crowd got right behind the chorus!

Then it was back up to speed for the home straight as they belted out a trio of classics and the crowd responded with gusto – Hanging Around, Something Better Change and Duchess.

All too soon it was bass bashing time which signalled the end, in the shape of closing number (a rousing) No More Heroes, one more mad mosh before our heroes exited stage left…

Over…

Or is it?

Well not quite!

It’d be rude of me not to say a thing or two about our hosts of the day – Green Day.

I made my way toward the front (and side-ish) and caught their full set and must say they were great!

It’s not a band I’m that familiar with and they weren’t high on my wish list of gigs to see. But credit where credit is due, they put on a cracking performance and had the audience in the palm of their hands. Taking Punk to the mainstream masses, in a kind of teeny bop Bay City Rollers for the modern age sort of way. I’m not intending to be negative or talk them down here, just making observations.

There were people of all ages from all walks of life really enjoying the show. And while that show was indubitably mainstream, it still came with a message, as front man Billie Joe Armstrong gave out plenty of sound bites in his interaction with the crowd – talking up the virtues of equality and freedom while putting down negative attitudes such as racism, sexism and homophobia. Putting down politics and even throwing in “F*ck Donald Trump”. Fair play that man!

Yes, it was poppy punk by numbers but it was catchy and brilliantly executed and the crowd participation was second to none as they brought people up on stage to sing and play guitar.

The bands energies did not waver for one second of the two hours or so of their set. Yes, it was mainstream but there was just a little bit of a feeling that they were rebelling from within, while delivering an energetic captivating set. Dare I say Superb?

Over…

Or is it?

Part Two…

So, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of being part of a captive audience at the mercy of mainstream commercialism but thankfully it really turned out fine. All the staff I encountered were friendly and enthusiastic. The food outlets were great and not overly expensive. The entertainment was top notch. The setting was great. The audio-visuals were superb in terms of the sound and video system.

Oh, and the weather was really good too!

Over…

Words and images: Matthew Elvis Brown.

Bonus:

Guest Review – The Stranglers – Brixton Academy – 240317

Came down on a Friday…
Somewhere from the Midlands…

First there was Black Friday Pt1...
Then there was Black Friday Pt2...
And now here is Black Friday Pt3...
etc Etc EiTC...

It’s time for my third and unfortunately final gig of the Classic Collection tour…

So it’s Midday Myself and Jane board the choo choo bound for the big city… check in to our dwellings for the next 3 nights just down the road from Her Maj’s place…. not been Victoria way for a good few years and how it’s changed, plenty of building work going on.

Short journey on the tube to Brixton, first visit to this part of town for either of us, photo opportunity at the Bowie mural then off to find The Trinity Arms, as a few of you may have realised we don’t like to stay out of the pub for too long. Quick bite to eat and before long The Family In Black start to arrive….

Owen, Jacquie and friend Pat quickly followed by one of my oldest mates from following The MIB Gary, who’s with Jan and Bernard after seeing Straighten Out, Stu and partner follow and before long it’s time to move on as we arrange to meet Audrey who has a spare ticket, Audrey’s in The local Spoons and it is absolutely rammed, also in attendance JB Alan, Dave, Isabella, Sandra, Jason, Ray, big Les and plenty others wearing our favourite logo. Sadly though not in attendance our friend from Belfast ..Mully.. which explains why you’re having to put up with my words… thanks for asking Matt (thank you very much Sir! EiTC).

Show time and seeing as Andy Miller had thoroughly recommended we should all make the effort to see Ruts dc Myself and Jane got there in plenty of time, I was lucky enough to see the line up in 79-80 with Malcolm on vox and bloody good they were but have not had the pleasure since and Mr Miller you were quite right…they were very good.

Waiting for The MIB I luckily bump into another old friend.. Duncan… only too briefly. It’s packed down the front so we stand quite near the back it looks like another large crowd… it is time…

That superb intro Waltzinblack and straight into the brilliant Raven, which must be in most fans top 5 all time Strangs songs… you all know the set list by now so I won’t go through it all… plenty of highlights Sometimes, Grip… then one I am not really that keen on 15 Steps but credit for something different… Never to look back which I love, a typical JJ track… followed by a quiet 10 mins or so with the hits which did draw big cheers from the crowd.

More highlights for me.. WWTW, great to hear Bear Cage.. great addition to the set… Genetix well done to Jim, for me it is the Jet track but Jim did a sterling Job… 5 Minutes obviously Sewer….. Baz says hope you’ve enjoyed the classic collection… don’t know what the fook it means but here’s the oldest… Go Buddy Go…. then all done with Heroes.

Cracking show from the boys again… never fail to deliver in my eyes.. so it’s back to The Spoons for a few more refreshments and chat with Julie and Darren and with Matt himself.. Thanks again for asking – over and out…

(thanks again for providing, EiTC).

Over…

Words: Phil Coxon.

Videos: Andy Miller.

Photos: Matthew Elvis Brown.

Bonus:




Guest Review – Straighten Out – Hope and Anchor 240317

Black Friday Part 1…

Sadly EiTC had to miss the annual pilgrimage to the Hope and Anchor for the afternoon mass in black...

Fortunately,  Little Lil was there to egg on Bag Lady to big it up...

Straighten Out – Hope and Anchor Friday 24th March 2017

It was late morning when I slipped my little feet into my little DM’s and took a little train ride to see a little gig in a tiny basement. It was the pre-Stranglers meet up to witness lil’ ol’ Straighten Out at the mighty Hope and Anchor (well, something in this little review had to add a bit of stature). A little afternoon out? Oh no, this was to exceed expectations.

The pub took a while to fill up with people in black but eventually the bar was three deep in dark figures. The thud of a sound check penetrated the floorboards as greetings were called out and old acquaintances re-established. Without announcement the doors downstairs were opened. A homing instinct called to those in black who turned and obediently filed down in an orderly queue. Flippin’ heck, Lil, the place was rammed to the rafters. What does a little ‘un have to do to find a breathing space in here? Scuba gear attached and sauna towel adjusted, it was once more into the fray with the band emerging from the crowd.

Longships into The Raven, ah, a proper start. Are we going to be a better audience than Glasgow? Of course we are. Dead Loss Angeles and Ice. Does anyone know what album they’re playing? Maybe cracks are appearing in our superiority when the audience consensus is that Rattus is having an airing… I am delighted, although after Bordello and ND not surprised, to hear Shah Shah A Go Go, now that’s a treat. What’s up next? An omission and an addition. Bear Cage and a chance to chant along. The voice changer is employed through Meninblack and later in JLNOE (or is this Shaggy’s real off-stage voice?). As we are in MiB territory I should mention my view of new drummer, Casey’s set up meant his head appeared to be a cymbal in an alien way. Legs, torso, rather attractive biceps and a cymbal up top. It’s a relief after nearly two hours to see him unfold from behind the kit and find that he is from our planet. Welcome.

After a little flirtation into Gospel territory, SO move on to the very best of La Folie – Man, Tramp, Family and Everybody. I know I’m listing (and that is not referring to my heading to starboard with my wonky dancing to Who Wants the World nor to an impeccable Toiler) but this was a set list written for fans and that marks this gig out. Plus each track was belted out, not even slowing when Phil burst a string. Add again to that the authentic sound with Mick’s keyboards and you have a room of hot, happy people. Shaggy says from the stage that they read the various forums, take note of what fans want to hear and try to provide. For any dry trees seeking water, this is the place to be.

The appreciation of the audience was there throughout but they took time to make noisy expression. It was after all mid Friday afternoon and the creation of a rowdy late night atmosphere takes some working. In the well-crafted set the arrival of Tank was perfectly timed, the audience were hungry for it. We were like children who have gorged on the party buffet of rich and rare Stranglers tracks, thinking it was time to head out for a go on the swings, only to be presented with ice cream sundaes. There’s pudding too! Oh yes, we’ve got room! Sleazy followed (the dancing rather sedate this afternoon), SBC and Heroes. The whipped cream on top was added with a magnificent seven and a half minutes of Sewer. Our appetites were satisfied. The temperature had soared. The smiles had grown. The cheers had risen.

Straighten Out had taken bigger risks with the set than The Stranglers would later in the evening. There is not the pressure to keep in the general crowd pleaser tracks that the casual attendee expects at a Stranglers gig, giving SO more freedom to roam through the albums for gems. For the Stranglers themselves this freedom might be considered insane. It is good to see SO go large with the set list. It pays off, big time. Classic.

Over…

Words: Guildford Lil.

Photos: Gary Bainbridge.

Coming Soon to a town near you...
Black Friday Part 2...
and now
Black Friday Part 3!

Guest Review – Stranglers/Ruts DC – Southend Cliffs Pavilion – 230317

We intercepted, captured and interpreted this incoming transmission as it was broadcast across space and time... 

There was talk of Lew and talk from Lou but no time was spent in either Lieu or the Loo etc Etc EiTC...

Presented here for the first time in full...

Sugar tongs primed, refractors tweaked and hair straighteners only just remembered, we’re off to the seaside that is Southend.

A relatively painless manoeuvre negotiating the M25 and its’ allies and we’re at the hotel with the sugar tongs reclining on the window sill gazing out to far horizons, well, the Isle of Sheppy at least…

All spruced up and a wander past the Cliffs Pavilion in the glorious sunset for a quick fish and chip tea and a little libation before heading back for the main event – The Stranglers with Ruts DC supporting.

The Ruts are on as we go in and we’re soon into the rhythm with Jah Wars which I’m reliably informed is all about jam making in the WI, everyday’s a school day eh!? (wf)

In no particular order we also hear In A Rut, Babylon’s Burning and the superb Music Must destroy amongst others (soz, memory’s not what it was and I have got ManFlu!), a perfect set for getting us ready for what’s to come.

The lights dim and Waltzinblack sets off the tingle in me as it does every time I hear it and they’re on! Straight into The Raven and I’m laughing and crying with the sheer joy of just being there and sharing it with like-minded folk.

The band look well and seem to be enjoying this tour so much, there’s something there that has been missing for a few tours, the mojo is in great working order.

A blistering set including one of my all time faves Bear Cage – oh wow, hearing that live is something else! Always great to hear Genetix, liking Freedom a lot this time round too and couldn’t resist providing the missing trumpet backing on Was It You (I always liked that bit of brass).And to really knock the orgasmatron off the scale, on comes Lew Lewis for the encore and belts out Old Codger on his trusty blues harp! Innit!?

All too soon it’s time for NMH and the bright lights of the Pavilion suggest it’s time to gather and go.

Dazed, but certainly not confused, until next time…

Over…

Words: Missy Lou.

Pictures: Mrs Bloggs.

Bonus:

Gig Review – The Stranglers/Ruts DC – G Live Guildford – 210317

The thick fog gave way to a smoky haze which had been a permanent feature since the advent of steam power and the industrial revolution. Dusty street urchins could be seen gathered sheltering in shop doorways huddling together in a vain attempt to escape the clutches of the icy cold breath of the last remnants of Winter.

One of these forsaken children had strayed from the group and was to be found with his nose pressed to the window of a local dining establishment, drooling at the fine nourishment on the other side of the glass. It appeared to be simultaneously so close yet so far out of reach…

He sighed and thought to himself “Will I ever get to see The Stranglers and Ruts DC on the Classic Collection Tour?”

But hope was just around the corner…

Shards of light had begun to pierce the dark of Winter’s gloom, accompanied by shoots of green and trees in bloom. The realisation dawned of the auspiciousness of this moment – the Vernal Equinox - when the subsolar point appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator. The beginning of Spring. And whether it is due to the unique gravitational pull, which is believed to occur at this time of year, or other factors, the increase in available light brings with it hope…

The air was crackling with potential…

It could be seen, heard, smelt, touched, tasted…

“Tonight” he thought “Tonight!”...

Blimey we’re in the third week of March!
So…
Well, it’s the annual Stranglers Tour innit!
So…
Well, things are so hectic – Guildford presents the 1st opportunity for EiTC…
Go on…
And the Ruts DC are supporting this year…
Really!
Yes!
Well what you waiting for?
Skates on!…

The mythical mystical city of Guildford beckoned us in, luring, enticing with sensual stimuli – sights, sounds, smells…

…here I chanced upon one of the city’s celebrated daughters Lil who acted as our Sherpa this evening as we once more descended the drunken staircase into the bowels of Glive, whereupon the following phenomena were encountered…

…whoah, ‘old yer ‘orses!

…why of course before descending the staircase we rendezvoused with SiB and Son, stopping off for a quick hello and how do with Messrs Miller and Hegarty and Owen and Jacq among others – there was also a brief hello with The Members JC Carroll…

…Okay as you were!

Thank you…

Review – Ruts DC

… At 7.45pm prompt Ruts DC took the stage and proceeded to stun us with a set rammed to the brim with Ruttishly brilliant nuggets new and old.

There was barely time to draw breath between numbers as they cranked out a superb upbeat uplifting set with apparent ease barely breaking a sweat.

Guitarist Leigh Heggarty was on fire tonight as he ascended from being merely in the zone to a whole new previously undefined level of six string skilfulness while providing some excellent BVs!

Frontman/Bassist Segs was clearly cooler than an extremely cool thing as he quipped with the crowd and his bandmates and demonstrated unrivalled skill in his ability to simultaneously lay down the (serious) bass and sing.

Master Skins-man Dave Ruffy – a joy to watch perform – with the outward grace of a swan gliding across a calm pond – the onlooker unaware of the unseen effort occurring just below the surface – creating a kind of disparity between what you are seeing and what you are hearing. Peerless, effortless (apparently) and brilliant!

That’s the three constituent parts – enough on their own – but add the Aristotelian metaphysical summing of the whole and the resultant greatness is nothing less than magic!

Not a single second of their 45 minutes was wasted – absolutely superb! The classic Ruts tracks were well represented as was the new album Music Must Destroy. Highlight for EiTC was the mightiest ever rendition of Mighty Soldier (but also in fact just being there for a great set).

The sound tonight was magnificent.

Blinding!

And kudos and much gratitude to The Stranglers for having the balls to put such a fantastic support act on the bill!

Well how can you follow that?

Well there’s only one way to follow that…

Review – The Stranglers.

Mr Brown?
Yes!
Your prescription is ready.
Just what the Doctor ordered…

Cue Waltzinblack and enter stage left and right The Stranglers.

The Raven started off proceedings sounding tight and right with all elements crystal clear and perfectly synchronized.

The nice thing about catching them this far into the tour (third week), is just how tight the band are. The early bugs and sound problems have largely been ironed out and this is the best sound I’ve witnessed at Glive. The vocals and BVs sounded great tonight!

The band were clearly enjoying the themselves and this enjoyment naturally rubs off on the crowd.

Tonight JJ was in his element as he interacted with crowd while playing, mouthing suggestive comments to the more nubile parts of the audience or mouthing in my general direction how good Jim is, as I was gawping at him (or so it was perceived at the time). All the while never dropping a note. During Golden Brown he was raising a chuckle with his affected almost balletic dancing. At one point, someone held up their young son near the front to which JJ quickly responded, “he’s not mine!” A broad grin, excellent vocals, killer bass lines and more than a sprinkling of menace – in his element!

Meanwhile, his partner in crime Baz was on fine form serving up the classics alongside the more recent with a firm hand, a cheeky grin and a twinkle in his eye, all with the requisite good pinch of menace. On the classic Mk1 songs, while always faithful to the original, he’s never afraid to imprint some of his own personality into the mix as well and that works brilliantly. On Strange Little Girl for example, his (and the bands) delivery is great – Baz’s voice shines on this tonight while the guitar work on the solo with the flange type effect is fitting and authentic.

Dave delivers! Grinning like the lovable demonic keyboard wizard that he is. A joy to behold with the eyes and the ears. The keys are clearer to these ears than they’ve been for some while, particularly the organ sounds. The solo of Walk on By was well and truly nailed! A transcendental experience. Brilliant vocal delivery on Genetix and on BV duties. Dave delivers!

Jim! JJ is right! We’ve heard about the DVD mentoring from the live-retired drum master and founding father Jet Black… Which is fab – they’re big shoes to fill… Jim fills them exceptionally well, pouring every ounce of his being into the performance, including BVs. Now he’s tackling Genetix too. In terms of shed building this guys got it nailed. I was transfixed during 5 minutes, by the power and energy of Jim’s playing, superb! For sheer presence alone he registers a 9 on the Richter scale of menace.

The set tonight (and on the tour) is great and really does seem to strike a balance between what they feel dutybound to play (GB, ATS, Peaches, NMH) and what they want to play or what they throw in as a surprise.

The MiB are firing on all cylinders, interacting with each other and the crowd and playing out of their skins. At one point Baz teases the punters up on the balcony with his (surprisingly good) mock Surrey genteel accent! We are also treated to the ‘Get on with it!’ routine where they down tools and have a beer as an indignant reaction to an impatient punter, which makes for a good bit of theatrical comedy. I can understand some people complaining about this if they’ve been to several gigs on the tour but what the heck it’s all good humoured, a bit of light hearted fun.

Highlights too numerous to mention so I’ll try to narrow it down; Bear Cage – Superb! (only ever saw this live in 1980 with Ian Dury on vocal duty IIRC…), 5 Minutes – off the scale! Down in The Sewer – menacing magnificence! Go Buddy Go – unsurpassed! Who Wants The World – Trump/Putin! I could continue but won’t as hopefully by now you get the picture…

Finally at zero hour a brief pause in proceedings as Baz takes the time to dedicate No More Heroes to the recently deceased local fan Anton De Croft, touching!

While Chuck Berry replaces Sancho Panza…

A top night!

If you’ve not done so, make sure you catch one of the remaining dates on this tour, you will not be disappointed!

For me tonight the whole concert experience is akin to having one’s soul re-aligned. Sublime!

Over…

Words (and Jim Pictures): Matthew Elvis Brown.

Pictures and Videos: Andy Miller.

Bonus:

Guest Review – Stranglers/Ruts DC – Birmingham o2 180317

Sugar Tongs aside, EiTC is yet to make it to the classic collection tour!!!
Birmingham is always a blast but YT will have to wait...
Fortunately Gizzard was there and brings us this account of the evening...

15 STEPS TO BIRMINGHAM

Here we are all again, March is upon us and it’s the annual Stranglers tour of the UK, still no news of a new album(it’s in the pipeline we hear…?) The tour is called ‘The Classic Collection’, does this mean a new range of clothing or the ‘greatest hits’? We are promised ‘new old’ tracks in pre tour interviews so it looks promising and also a set change every night…

My interest in seeing the band live has waned over the last 3 or so years, they will always be my favourite band without question and in 158 gigs I have only come away really disappointed once(AITUK Birmingham 2005), from a personal point of view I think seeing them so many times has took the edge off, plus the same ‘hits’ and the lack of new material hasn’t helped, so now each tour 2 or 3 gigs max instead of previously 7 or 8.

I have never been one for not wanting to see the set list before I go to a gig, so after the first gig I want to know, I had seen what was being played and to be honest it didn’t really ‘excite’ me, the only real standouts were ‘Bear Cage’ and ‘15 Steps’ and that was because I had never seen them performed live. There were other songs I was pleased to see back but there were also a few that I have heard/seen played to death but hey you can’t please everyone…..

So I leave home around late afternoon in my new 17 plate Black automobile, plenty of CD’s for the journey, starting with a live recording of Toronto 1980, hells fire it must have been good to see them then!

And so to Birmingham, always liked seeing the band there as it’s always a very healthy and appreciative crowd and this time was no exception, before the actual gig there was a fine meet up of black clad people old and new in the nearby Railway pub, always good to meet up with old faces and new.

And onto the gig, wanted to get in early to check out the Ruts DC, have never seen them before but have their albums and have heard good reports so was keen to check them out, by the time they came on at around 7.45 there was a very healthy crowd and they didn’t disappoint, the set was a mixture of old tracks and new ones from their very fine album ‘Music Must Destroy’, highlights for me being the title track and of course the oldies ‘Jah War’, Staring At The Rude Boys’ and ‘Babylons Burning’.

And so to the main event, the place was now rammed and it was very hot, the lights go down and the familiar WIB comes out of the PA and we are off, have to say the new stage set up of the bricks doesn’t do anything for me, a plain black background with the white or red logo would suffice.
JJ looks in fine form(hope I look that good at 65), he actually seems to look younger each tour, the sound is spot on and the hits are rattled through, highlights were for me are ‘Never To Look Back’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘WWTW’ and of course ‘Sewer’, ‘Bear cage’ was very good but I thought it might be better vocal wise.

Both Baz and Dave are on fine form but the keyboards in certain songs don’t sound right, they sound very ‘plonky(is that even a word..?) and he even partly misses singing one of the lines of ‘Genetix’.

Jim does a fine job on the drums but to me it doesn’t look right without the mighty presence of JB and his drum kit, I know that is not going to change but that’s my opinion and in no way takes away the fact that Jim does a very good job and is a fine drummer.On a personal note whilst I was looking forward to seeing the band again I was not as excited as I have been in previous years, as noted above live interest has slightly diminished, that said I really enjoyed the gig, the band are playing as tight as ever and the future however long that may be looks just good for them, although I want to hear new material, I may be in the minority here as the average Stranglers gig goers will only want to hear the old material but not me, it’s been a long time since ‘Giants’ and a new album is well overdue, I would also like to hear some different ‘older’ tracks and more stuff post Hugh, this though has been and will continue to be debated for as long as the band continue and probably further.

To sum up another fine live performance in the company of good people, now FFS get that new material out!!

Oh and roll on Bristol.

Over…

Words: Gizzard.

Images: Simon Kent.

Videos: adperry0

Bonus:

Click for animation

Guest Review – Stranglers/Ruts DC – Reading Hexagon –

We managed to coax the sugar tongs back to life...
And they were ticking over nicely...
Which was just as well as the following message nearly caused an overheat malfunction in the Pigeon to English translation matrix...

The Stranglers Review reading

It’s traditional now that the Stranglers go on tour in March. This year’s March tour consists of 19 gigs. And an added bonus support of the superb Ruts DC, who are promoting their new album “Music Must Destroy” 6 tickets booked for me. Taking in a couple of new cities; Newcastle and Leeds. But my first gig was the Reading Hexagon. A venue I first went to last year on the “Black and White” tour. I thought last year was so good, I decided to go again!

Arriving in Reading I met my friend Adam Cooper at the station. We checked into the IBIS hotel, where we were staying with our friend Alex Owen. At the lobby I met fellow forum member Greatkudu.

After checking in we had a walk to the venue to try meeting the band around sound check time. The walk to the venue gave us time to talk on all things Stranglers. We arrived at the venue at 4pm as we thought that’s what time the band would come out. At the entrance were several fans, I saw Andy Miller, so we had a talk with him. After a lengthy chat, the band came out of sound check at 5pm. Baz and Dave quickly shot off into the awaiting car. However, JJ stopped and talked to fans. It was at that point I asked JJ if I could have a photo with him. JJ said “Well everyone else is”. So I got another photo with JJ. My first was in 2005 at his “Songs and Stories” tour in Salford. Then me and Adam headed off for a Thai curry. We arrived at the venue in time for Ruts DC. It was great to bump into friends Sam Holiday, Owen, Andy and Karen.

Ruts DC took the stage at 7.45 and Ruffy the Drummer said they had not played in Reading for 37 years. And that they would be playing songs from their new album “Music Must Destroy” which is good because I own it (and most excellent it is too – EiTC).

They started off with “Vox teardrop” from the new album. Which Captain Sensible plays on. I like “Music Must Destroy” the song and they play it. Segs the bass player and singer says it’s because we’re still so very angry. He shouts “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” at the start. From RATM. I really like the chorus “We are not your property”. They mix new songs with old songs. So, they play reggae dub song “Mighty Solider”, and their old single “Shine on Me”. Back to the new album they play “Kill the pain”. Obviously most of the crowd are waiting for the popular songs “Staring at the rude boys”, “In a rut” and “Babylon’s Burning”. But it is “Psychic Attack”. Which I am waiting for. They go off to a good applause

Time for The Stranglers at Tonight’s Sold out gig at the Hexagon. These days it is now impossible to not know the set with social media websites. I think I waited a day before I caved in. With the bands back catalogue from 1977 to 1982 supposedly being re-released, it would likely be a set mainly consisting of songs from that time period. Whilst there are many from that time period I would like to see Dropped. I would like to say “Always the Sun”, “5 minutes” and Walk on by” (sacrilege etc Etc EiTC!) for one (that’s three! EiTC). But these are must play songs. Baz has said in interviews there are several folders. “The must play folder”, “band request” folders and “Self indulgent” folders. Whilst he gave away the band would be playing “Dagenham Dave”, and an unplayed song from “Giants”. I guessed at “15 Steps”. I tried to keep the rest of set a Surprise (That was Ruts DC Surely! EiTC…).

9pm. “Waltzinblack” airs from the PA. Like a bus timetable that is timed to Greenwich mean time. Bang on!. “The Raven” starts off. My favourite all time song. So it doesn’t get much better for me already. “Was it you”? next, it looks like Dave has new Keyboards and “Grip”follows. Jim has a very nice looking new drum kit. It looks like a “linpig” (Ludwig??? EiTC) kit. Up next “Sometimes”. I have heard this a fair few times now but never get bored of it. It is clear the band are getting on as good as ever. “Never to look back” is up next, one of my favourites from “10”.

Now it’s time for the first wave of hits. “Strange little Girl” makes a nice return to the set. The first song the band ever wrote this is the classic collection, “Always the Sun” to which Baz and JJ seem to be having banter onstage by pulling faces at each other. We are well and truly in the hit parade now as “Golden Brown’ is up next.

A mad lighting effects. I am thinking to myself at this point Ok it’s a greatest hits set!

…but a keyboard run started off…
“No” I thought to myself it can’t be!!!
A heavy bass line followed and…
“BEAR CAGE”!!!!
I can’t believe it!
I have been waiting years and years to see this…
I just watch in Amazement.
Baz playing a stunning Gibson SG.
And his voice on this is very very good.
He sounds as mean as Hugh!. With “GMBH” and Gee I’m Living in a Bear Cage”.
I was totally surprised by this and this is worth the ticket fee alone!!!

“Genetix” next which is as good as ever (first time with Jim on Drums! EiTC). Only JJ seemed to start his bass solo too early. “Walk on By” which replaces “Midnight Summer Dream”. Which I am a tad disappointed about. Now time for the “Giants” set “Freedom is insane”, and then Baz starts a guitar line to “15 Steps” which is a really interesting version. I really like this song on “Giants” so I am glad they are playing it.

“Dagenham Dave” up next. One thing I notice the band are playing superbly. “5 Minutes” and then “Peaches”, “Nice N Sleazy”, then another great Surprise “Down in the Sewer”. Always a joy to hear this song another one of my favourites I never tire of hearing it live. It’s a song of four individual parts climaxing in the “Rats Rally” finale. The band go off to a very loud applause and come back for a shortened encore tonight of “Go Buddy Go” and “No More heroes”. I sat here typing this review out as we are in a car with Mark Owen at the helm with me Alex and Mrs Owen heading in the direction of Newcastle for my 2nd part of the tour … Marching on in Black

Over…

Words: The Legendary Pigeon.

Pictures and Videos: Andy Miller.

Bonus:



Guest Review – The Stranglers/Ruts DC – Lincoln Engine Shed – 070317

The Sugar Tongs have been offline due to a malfunctioning T-unit and what with cloning technology being what it is at the moment (etc Etc EiTC), Elvis had to resign himself to the fact that in this (or that) instance he wasn’t (currently isn't) able to be in two places at one moment.
 
Fortunately help was on hand... 

Cue John Dewhirst…

Whether it is Seasonal affected disorder (SAD) or age, the passing of winter and the coming of spring is always a welcome occurrence. March can be hit and miss in terms of the weather but it is a month that has assumed a particular significance, heralding the start of the touring season for the Men in Black that can be relied upon to brighten the mood.

I have seen The Stranglers on most tours since 1979 but have no hesitation in saying that those of the last five years or so have been the best for sheer all-round enjoyment. I am not alone in confessing that there was a phase in an earlier decade when I attended gigs more out of a sense of duty or habit than a compelling case of having to be there. But how things have changed! At the start of the decade I had a deep-rooted fear that a forthcoming tour was going to be the last but The Stranglers remain the band which continues to surprise and defy.

The last forty years bear testament to the band’s ability to reinvent itself with different styles of music. This decade however has been a statement of vitality almost akin to a rebirth, sufficient to persuade myself and others to commit significant chunks of time to follow the band across the UK on its annual March tour.

This year The Stranglers began their 19 date schedule in Lincoln on 7th March and I was fortunate to be there. It was the first time that I had visited the city and walked the streets having only previously been to Sincil Bank to watch the football. (Baz Warne alluded to the recent FA Cup exploits of Lincoln City and I share his sentiments of goodwill towards the club in its forthcoming Quarter-Final tie at Arsenal. As a supporter of Bradford City and someone at the Valley Parade fire in 1985, I share a certain affinity with the Imps.)

Although based in Bradford, I work across the UK and on this occasion had the relative convenience of travelling from Sheffield, only 50 miles distant. I arrived in Lincoln in the early afternoon and enjoyed a few hours wandering around the city before getting some food and heading off to the venue. It was a great day with spring sunshine and a nice place to visit. There is also the friendliness of the people in black from diverse backgrounds but with one thing in common.

What I have discovered is that when you attend a Stranglers gig you can be assured of a decent, charismatic venue (Fibbers at York included) and in that regard, the Engine Shed in Lincoln rates highly as one of the best. As far as sound systems go, neither was the support band plagued by the sort of issues that occurred in nearby Skegness last October.

It is very easy to take for granted all the incidental stuff that makes for an enjoyable experience seeing The Stranglers but the common theme is that you get good, solid entertainment. The Ruts DC were no exception to this and once more we have another hard working, enthusiastic band in support.

The atmosphere at the Lincoln gig was in many ways characteristic of what Stranglers concerts have become and the enjoyment of the evening is evident not only on the faces of those in the audience but on stage too – as well as the road crew. Everyone has fun. It is quite a unique bond between all concerned and what is so refreshing is just how down to earth it all is. All quite matter of fact and with no pretentiousness.

There is also the relaxed manner in which the band performs consistently to a high standard. Yet whilst it could be claimed that this comes from the familiarity of the band members it overlooks the professionalism of those concerned. For all the laid back delivery there is a wonderful team ethic and attention to detail that few of us have the privilege to witness in our day jobs. Also noteworthy is that this discipline is maintained during the entirety of a tour, a stamina challenging routine of at least four concerts per week that would test the energy levels of performers thirty years younger.

In terms of the music, Ruts DC gave a good performance that featured songs including ‘In a Rut’ and ‘Babylon’s Burning’. Crucially these were musicians who wanted to be there and were enjoying the occasion as much as the regular Stranglers fans.

The back catalogue of The Stranglers is so extensive as to make a mockery of any description of the set list being one of classics. There was probably an ironic grain of truth in the admission by Baz that it is in fact what the band wanted to play. The choice of songs showcases a real balance of musical talents and underlines the credentials of Jim and Baz alongside J-J and Dave – it is difficult to believe that the former pair are relative newcomers to the line-up.

The Stranglers never fail to be innovative and the rendition of ‘Bear Cage’ deserves special mention – a version that is destined to be a new live favourite. So too the contribution of Dave’s swirling organ that was particularly noticeable on the night. A new song – ’15 Steps’ – was given its (live) debut and was well received (15 Steps is the closing track on Giants eitc). Other favourites included the opener, ‘The Raven’ as well as old favs ‘Dagenham Dave’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Buddy’ and ‘Down in the Sewer’. If this was the choice of tracks for an album it would be nothing less than balanced – a classic collection indeed.

On the basis of the first gig we have a great month ahead and much to look forward to. I remain in awe and have nothing but praise for the band – The Stranglers surely offer the benchmark for what a good gig is all about. Whilst there have been many videos of live performances, the one that is missing is a film about the hard work that goes into making these tours such a success and allowing us to celebrate the coming of spring!

See you next in Glasgow…

Over…

Words: John Dewhirst

John was co-founder of the longest surviving football fanzine The City Gent and has written a number of books about the history of both rugby and soccer in his home city, Bradford: https://johndewhirst.wordpress.com/ @jpdewhirst
He is the proud owner of a Triumph Bonneville T120 – black, of course.

Photos and Video: Andy Miller

Bonus:



Guest Review – The Finchley Boys 40th Bash according to Pidge…

In his own words, some yet to be added to the OED - The legend that is Pigeon gives his account of the recent Finchley Boys 40th Anniversary Bash...

It was 9am Saturday Morning. I received a phone call from Elvisintheclouds. He was on his way to his yoga class. We spoke about the Finchley boy bash, and I asked if I was going I was (couldn’t edit that mate, it’s golden EiTC). He offered me a lift to the venue, a bed for the night, and a drop off to the tube station Sunday morning so I could go to work. So the day started with a trip to Archway Tube station North London. I met EITC at 6pm, and off we drove to The Flag pub Watford.

We Arrive in Watford just gone 7pm. The Flag is a nice setting for the event. Upon Arrival the usual suspects are already there, Alex, Sarah, Rob, Owen, Jacquie, Les Neil, Audrey, Sandra, Elaine, The Welsh Mafia. I met Neil Sparkes and Alan Hillier. It was good to talk to them, and we heard many stories about the Finchley Boys.

05

Walk into the venue I meet Steve Hillier. Who has my t-shirt and I bought a badge. To my right I spy a table full of goodies “Sell him Everything” I think was Mr Carnes idea. I could not believe my luck when my eyes feasted upon a poster of JJ Burnel on his Triumph Motorcycle, that was given away free with early Japanese copies of “Euroman Cometh”. I bought a Japanese copy of Euroman on eBay but my copy did not come with the said poster. “HOW MUCH? for the JJ poster I say to Steve?”. He says “you want it make me an offer?”, I say “Whatever the asking price is” he says “£15”. I open my wallet to (in disgust) find only a tenner in it. I say I will be right back and there’s a cash machine inside the venue. Withdraw another tenner. Rush back inside and yes its still there in all its glory. I can’t believe what happened I HAVE THE JJ BURNEL POSTER ON HIS TRIUMPH. I can’t recall the next half an hour, oh yes I can, proceed to show to it anyone who’s willing to let me talk to them.

Pidges Italian import...
Pidges Italian import…

First on was a band called The Smash. A punk rock covers band. They did great covers of New Rose, Ever fallen in love, Hit me with your, rhythm stick, She does it right, smash it up, Teenage kicks. got the audience dancing. They played well enough.

03

Next up was one of the highlights of the evening, the brilliant Neil Horgan. Who from Ireland, and one of the tops Stranglers collectors gave an impressive speech on why The Stranglers changed his life. Saying the first time he heard The Stranglers was in 1979, and “Duchess” on the radio. He then went on to tell the length and depth of his record collection “No More Heroes” was released in Turkey!! & ….. Brazil. “Ain’t nothing to it, was released in Bolivia”. He then said his mum went on to give him a birthday surprise one year, “You can’t go to The Stranglers, Neil but there coming to you”. This was in 2005 and Neil said “I saw them in London last night, they’re in Southampton tonight”. Then Hugh walked in the living room with an acoustic guitar, and did an acoustic set for Neil, who couldn’t believe it. And Hugh said to Neil “Neil I have written a song that’s better than Golden Brown, do you want me to play it to you?”. Neil said “yes please” the song was “Delightful nightmare” and said it wasn’t as good as “Golden Brown”. He then when onto say his favourite item was his Stranglers Bomber jacket! A great speech.

00

Next up there is a raffle that takes place, of which I didn’t enter but lots of nice items up for grabs including an acoustic white guitar, signed by all the band.

Up next was supposed to be a film, but there was technical difficulty so Neil Sparkes then introduced The Finchley Boys onstage for some stories, some have flown in from abroad for this. Steve Hillier, Alan Hillier, Alan Warne, Graham Hayhoe, Peter Enter, Peter Sharp, & Jonjo Bull.

06

They all gave stories of how the Finchley boys came into existence, when The Stranglers played the Torrington pub in 1976. They said they saw The Damned play live there in 1976, but when they saw The Stranglers they knew that they were something special, so they invaded the stage. There was then tales of what they got up. They were in the TW studios, when No More Heroes was being recorded. They told the story of the battle of Cleethorpes and Canterbury 1977, when a running battle with the band the Finchley’s, and some HA, one had a knife and was about to stab JJ and a Finchley boy saved him. Alan told the story of the Dingwalls incident that JJ always talks about, and he says jj says the Finchley were there, but Alan says they weren’t as they didn’t know them then. They also tell the story about when they followed the band on their first European tour.

11

After the Finchley’s it was time for Straighten Out who Neil Sparkes introduced. 3 Straighten Out gigs this year for me. As unfortunately I missed the second Hope and Anchor gig of the year in September. They came onto what else but “Burning up Time”. Seeing Straighten Out is always an experience, as it gives an idea to what it was like in the really early days. Keyboardist Mick “The Doctor” Turley, uses a Hammond just like Dave’s and it sounds superb. Shaggy’s bass, is how JJs bass sounded back then, and Guitarist Phil Harvey does a brilliant job emulating Hugh. It’s a concentrated set tonight. “Goodbye Toulouse” followed. But hello, technical problems early on in the set.

12

The pure MK1 magic continues with “Peasant in the big shitty”, “I feel like a Wog”, “Peaches”. “Nuclear Device” the Bruce and Sheila’s are in fine voice tonight Then the crowd favourite “Toiler on the Sea”. a highlight of any gig, Dave’s Keyboard intro sung by all fans in various stages of merriness. It is here that the merriness of the Southern Section could no longer take it and were the first to fall. With the hard Northern Section of the audience prompting them back up (huh? EiTC…).

A Brilliant version of “The Raven”, follows “Princess of the Street” and “Genetix”. It’s a very long set tonight part two sees the “Black and white” part of the set start with “Sweden”, “5 minutes”, “Walk on by” was well received. Time for more “Black and White” now “Sleazy”, “Tank” and “Curfew”. “Straighten Out”, “Hanging Around”, “Something better Change” and “London Lady” finish the main set.

13

Time for the Encore “School mam”, “Heroes” and the rip roaring “Down in the Sewer” where I among Alan Munro, Steve Maloney and Paul Anthony Kerswell find ourselves as Stage Security acting as the human barricade. I have never done Stage Security before, but like being a Stage Tech I am excellent at it (modest too EiTC).

stage-security

A great evening all round a well over £7 thousand pounds raised for Charity. Thanks to Steve Hillier and The Finchley boys for organising this.

Words:  Adam Salem.

Images: EiTC.

Bonus:

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