The Stranglers Ruby Anniversary Tour – Birmingham O2

The Stranglers Ruby Anniversary Tour – Birmingham O2 – 23rd March 2014

Crackle fizz pop buzz…

Hello!…

Crackle fizz hum…

Hello…

Click clack

If anyone can hear this transmission please pay attention…

Hum…

We came in search of The Oracle…

Hum fizz pop…

We ventured to Middle West of this un-enchanted island following information that we would encounter The Oracle there…

Buzz buzz…

We came upon the magical city of Birmingham in the heart of the Black Country but we encountered neither Oracle, Unicorn nor Cucumber…

Road weary, one of our number became most anxious as to the whereabouts of The Oracle…

We entered the heart of a Black Mass gathered at a local Inn known as The Crown… There we received a warm welcome and the reassurance that The Oracle was soon to be among our number…

Crackle hum fizz pop buzz…

I followed in the footsteps of the advanced party and made my way to the festivities at the Emporium known as The O2…

Inside this black dungeon the numbers quickly swelled to capacity.

After a fine performance from Nine Below Zero with their melodic old school R&B (and highly effective it is too!), it was time for the main event.

The Stranglers hit the stage for the Birmingham leg of their Ruby Anniversary Tour and it’s Bam Boom Bang … They’re on fire; London Lady and No More Heroes the opening 1-2 quickly followed by the swift Upper Cut of Coup De Grace. All of this gets the capacity crowds juices flowing and we’re set for the relentless two hour onslaught lapping up every note.

The choice of some of the bands more obscure material for the current set seems to go down well with the Birmingham crowd and the pace of the set, which slows down somewhat in the middle before picking up again for the final flourish, works perfectly well too!

Founding Father Jet Black joins the festivities for Golden Brown, Always the Sun and the masterpiece that is Genetix. JJ’s Bass really shines on this one tonight.

The mood of the band seems upbeat and they are tour tight. Drummer Jim is really doing a fine job of filling in for Jet. Baz is in the zone throughout as is Dave. Peasant being a highlight again for me plus Dave’s solo in Walk on By comes through loud and clear. Other highlights for me being Freedom is Insane and Norfolk Coast. A top show with a lively crowd. Alas no Jet on the encore for Tank but it was a great bonus to see him there at all to be fair… He did appear to be a little breathless truth be told. Then all too soon it was over…

As the numbers began to dwindle we did spy on the horizon The Oracle and paid her our respects… The Crown was once more visited before venturing out to the depths of India at The Royal Bengal….

The Oracle had these words of Wisdom to pass on…

Fizz Crackle Buzz…

…Red Button…

Pop Hum…

…Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Saturday in Black – Gig Reviews – Sat 8th Mar 2014.

Black Saturday.

Black…

What was once here is now past…

What was once before us is now here…

What was once past has now come around again Full circle…

But the circle is not complete…

It is more spiral-like in its oscillations; ever spinning inward to smaller and smaller dimensions, while ever spinning outwards expanding to new horizons, both of these aspects simultaneously taking us on a journey to the now, the known and the unknown…

Infinite! Time rolls out in all directions; before us, after us, within us and without us…

And some are blessed with the ability to hear in colour…

It is said that those Synesthetes present to hear Saturday 8th March 2014 were unanimous in their reports of hearing only in Black…

Thus the events that unfolded on that day were to become known as Black Saturday or Saturday in Black, if you will!

There is much to report and little time in which to do so, unless of course one has access to a means of overcoming time itself (which as you may be aware is not without its own set of problems!). Since the advent of time travel this problem has presented itself. Although we can be present at any moment in time there is but a finite amount of seconds, minutes and hours in a lifetime with which to do it. So, one can never be present at every moment in time due to these finite limitations of the human lifespan. Having broken the confines of time, our greatest minds are now concentrated on the breadth of our own mortality within it. But, even with the ability to visit the future, the elixir of eternal youth still eludes us. Blessed are those that do not dwell in the past nor fear for the future but grasp the now for all it is worth! Thus having used an abundance of time with this last paragraph, I will endeavour to get on with it!

Black…

Part 1. The Black Hole of Upper Street.

Straighten Out Live at The Hope & Anchor Islington – Sat 8th March.

Inspired by the fact that spring was upon us, much to everyone’s relief after the damp murk of winter, (The Sunshine brought with it new hope, there’s always the sun, Always!) they descended into the darkness once more to be at one with the Blackness…

A black clad clan gathered from near and far to bear witness to a ceremonial performance by the finest tribute to the founding fathers of the cult of the Men in Black. This tribute known as Straighten Out marked the beginning of the day’s festivities in Black, in this, the Ruby Anniversary year of the said fathers’ foundation.

Down into the Black Hole of Upper Street, what better location to be at than The Hope and Anchor with its historical significance in the story of The Stranglers? Magic! This Cellar was buzzing with anticipation as the Black strains of Waltzinblack heralded the arrival of Straighten Out.

IMG_8004

Shut Up! …

…started the proceedings, then IFLAW, followed by Ugly, the family were transfixed, the Synesthetes heard only black. Back to matters temporal, the band asked if anyone here was present in another (earlier) time… One or two replied in the affirmative including one of the legendary Finchley Boys.

If you’d squinted and opened your ears you’d have thought that you’d been transported back to that time of the late 1970’s 1976/7 or thereabouts… In fact the appearance of one Burn e77 leads one to believe that some temporal shenanigans may have been afoot! And we were in fact there then!

Mick in action

And the band played on through a mighty set list of MK1 favourites, I was chuffed to not only hear PITBS but also the excellent Dead Ringer, although in all fairness it was all great! The authenticity of this band really cannot be underplayed! Straighten out deliver the finest renditions of MK1 Stranglers this side of 1981. In fact the only people capable of doing a better job would be The MiB themselves.

We got a full set of back to back classics, replete with Growling P Bass, Jagged Telecaster, Swirling Mind-blowing Keyboards and Pounding Percussive excellence!

IMG_8048

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house… No, seriously! It was so hot in there that the sweat was dripping off their brows…

IMG_8008

Then they hit a hitch… Keyboardist Mick’s hand had seized up with a crippling cramp just as they were going into No More Heroes… Disaster!… Fortunately a lovely nurse was available to tend to the wounded Maestro*.

IMG_8009

Meanwhile the band appealed to any erstwhile keyboardists in the audience. To everyone’s amazement and delight some plucky chap spoke up and said “I’ll do it!” And that’s exactly what he did – Cool as a cucumber, said audience member got up on stage and banged out an almost note perfect No More Heroes on the keyboard, much to the amusement of both band and audience alike!

anthony goodwin

Then they called it a day only missing out Down in The Sewer from their set list.

And the family were suitably primed for what would follow later that very same day…

They adjourned once more into the daylight to partake of some refreshment before the journey to the South and the West of the now! They shrugged off the Sea of Red that had descended upon them in the interim as it bore no significance to anything of any importance! Eventually the family clustered into smaller groups before taking the subterranean propulsion system toward Hammersmith and the next chapter of this story…

* During the performance I was fortunate enough to be standing right next to Keyboard player mick whose full on arpeggios and keyboard wizardry really are a sight to behold and also I’m happy to report that he was already feeling somewhat recovered after a short rest the very same afternoon.

BLACK…

Part 2. Hammersmith! Canadian Pigeons; Penguins: And Jackie Brown!

The Stranglers plus Nine Below Zero Live at The Hammersmith Apollo.

And so the black hordes issued from their temporary subterranean nest like a gigantic colony of human Soldier Ants. I took up my place with The Advanced Guard who positioned themselves in neat rows along the Front line. Meanwhile the Duke of Cornwall brought up the Rear!

Nine Below Zero took to the Stage and provided a solid set of straight up no nonsense R&B with a nod to Wilko Johnson they played an excellent rendition of Twenty Yards Behind.  Tight! Is probably the best way to describe this band who sounded great in here tonight.

IMG_8024

Toward the latter part of their set they were joined by Squeeze front man Glenn Tilbrook who played a fine mix of complementary Rhythm guitar coupled with some cool solos and the odd vocal line or two. Great Stuff!

IMG_8026

The venue had now filled out to what looked and felt like capacity, hot and sweaty and nowhere to move. The air buzzed with anticipation awaiting the arrival of our Heroes.

BLACK

Some white noise crackles and interference on the screens gave way to the sound of Waltzinblack cranked through the PA… It sped up and slowed down while the screens came to life with the words of the Aural Sculpture Manifesto… a superb, inspired, atmospheric build up for the main event.

The band walked on and kicked into London Lady and the whole place just took off! What a great start to the set; short, sharp sweet! No let-up straight on to No More Heroes followed by the seldom aired Coup De Grace which sounded superb tonight.

strangs

The Stranglers had announced early on that they would be playing a song from each of their 17 studio albums on this their Ruby Anniversary tour. It seemed hard to believe they would achieve this goal but tonight they delivered admirably and then some… The band that keeps on giving, they played full on for around two hours tonight.

JJ

Was it You, Threatened and Summat Outa Nowt found JJ on fine form, followed by the awesome Peasant in The Big Shitty, one of my all-time favourites and certainly a highlight of the evening (there were so many!) with Dave’s commanding vocal performance.

Dave 2

Baz did a great job on Still Life and Midnight Summer Dream. All the while the screens giving us fast forward glimpses of the bands history along with shots of the fans during NMH. And some great trippy atmospheric graphics especially on Peasant and MSD! And drummer Jim was clearly really finding his feet with the subtler aspects of the beats in black and doing an all-round bang up job!

Baz

A slight pause….

JET BLACK

…The legendary founding fathers name rolled across the screens to the crowds delight. The master had joined the proceedings early tonight.

Jet

JET BLACK JET BLACK….

Golden Brown headed up Always The Sun with this Trio being rounded out by the suberb Genetix, with JJ’s bass rocking the place to its foundations along with impossible timing of the Drums and other instruments. Pure genius! Then as quickly as he had arrived he departed, handing the drum stool back to his worthy deputy.

Jim JJ

Disco Dancing Delights could mean only one thing the superb Thrown Away while Never to Look Back completed another clutch of JJ songs. The band were firing on all cylinders and with songs like NTLB the current line-up really seem to be finding their mojo (not that they ever lost it!).

Baz 2

The set was so rich and varied tonight I’ll not go into full details (see attached graphic for that) a real treat for the fans with enough of a smattering of hits and classics to keep everyone happy. Once again Freedom is Insane proved itself a worthy modern classic.

setlist

Parched, I had to head off in search of refreshment during the first encore of Norfolk Coast, it presented me with a great chance to see the rest of the audience! The people were into it from the front to the back of the venue. Singing along and dancing. Everyone appeared up for it!

Dave

Earlier, we had been alerted to the presence of a Canadian Pigeon and saw such really enjoying the evening’s proceedings. Although the Missing Penguin did remain just that!

JET BLACK JET BLACK JET BLACK….

Jet 2

All too soon we were at the final encore and Jet was once more able to join in for the dual drum assault of tank. It really doesn’t get any better than this. Quite remarkable!

To summarize; the pace of the set was full on with a nice mix of light and dark (black) and the visual element was really great with the screens. I wish I had a rewind button and could go over it all again, the Directors cut… …but I lent the Sugar Tongs to Ravenette!

Slowly but surely we were ushered back out into the night from whence we came by the patient venue staff!

None wanted this evening to ever end and rightly so!

The Duke of Cornwall fell back at ease, while some of the others went back underground and a few of us brave souls ventured to India in search of nourishment.

We returned from India for a final report to the Duke before heading off, to a scene reminiscent of Jackie Brown, in search of Bag Lady’s Motor Vehicle.

The Black rubber hit the Black tar then the Black DMs hit the pavement and brought me home to drift off once more into the blackness!

Over and Out…

Black…

Thanks to Andy Miller for Photos of The Stranglers and to Audrey Grant for the Photo of The Stranglers set list.

P.S. apologies for errors and omissions!

 

 

Straighten Out Live at The Hope & Anchor Islington – Sat 8th March.

Part 1. The Black Hole of Upper Street.

Full Article Here

Straighten Out Live at The Hope & Anchor Islington – Sat 8th March.

Inspired by the fact that spring was upon us, much to everyone’s relief after the damp murk of winter, (The Sunshine brought with it new hope, there’s always the sun, Always!) they descended into the darkness once more to be at one with the Blackness…

A black clad clan gathered from near and far to bear witness to a ceremonial performance by the finest tribute to the founding fathers of the cult of the Men in Black. This tribute known as Straighten Out marked the beginning of the day’s festivities in Black, in this, the Ruby Anniversary year of the said fathers’ foundation.

Down into the Black Hole of Upper Street, what better location to be at than The Hope and Anchor with its historical significance in the story of The Stranglers? Magic! This Cellar was buzzing with anticipation as the Black strains of Waltzinblack heralded the arrival of Straighten Out.

IMG_8004

Shut Up! …

…started the proceedings, then IFLAW, followed by Ugly, the family were transfixed, the Synesthetes heard only black. Back to matters temporal, the band asked if anyone here was present in another (earlier) time… One or two replied in the affirmative including one of the legendary Finchley Boys.

If you’d squinted and opened your ears you’d have thought that you’d been transported back to that time of the late 1970’s 1976/7 or thereabouts… In fact the appearance of one Burn e77 leads one to believe that some temporal shenanigans may have been afoot! And we were in fact there then!

And the band played on through a mighty set list of MK1 favourites, I was chuffed to not only hear PITBS but also the excellent Dead Ringer, although in all fairness it was all great! The authenticity of this band really cannot be underplayed! Straighten out deliver the finest renditions of MK1 Stranglers this side of 1981. In fact the only people capable of doing a better job would be The MiB themselves.

We got a full set of back to back classics, replete with Growling P Bass, Jagged Telecaster, Swirling Mind-blowing Keyboards and Pounding Percussive excellence!

IMG_8048

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house… No, seriously! It was so hot in there that the sweat was dripping off their brows…

IMG_8008

Then they hit a hitch… Keyboardist Mick’s hand had seized up with a crippling cramp just as they were going into No More Heroes… Disaster!… Fortunately a lovely nurse was available to tend to the wounded Maestro*. Meanwhile the band appealed to any erstwhile keyboardists in the audience. To everyone’s amazement and delight some plucky chap spoke up and said “I’ll do it!” And that’s exactly what he did – Cool as a cucumber, said audience member got up on stage and banged out an almost note perfect No More Heroes on the keyboard, much to the amusement of both band and audience alike!

IMG_8009

Then they called it a day only missing out Down in The Sewer from their set list.

And the family were suitably primed for what would follow later that very same day…

They adjourned once more into the daylight to partake of some refreshment before the journey to the South and the West of the now! They shrugged off the Sea of Red that had descended upon them in the interim as it bore no significance to anything of any importance! Eventually the family clustered into smaller groups before taking the subterranean propulsion system toward Hammersmith and the next chapter of this story…

* During the performance I was fortunate enough to be standing right next to Keyboard player mick whose full on arpeggios and keyboard wizardry really are a sight to behold and also I’m happy to report that he was already feeling somewhat recovered after a short rest the very same afternoon.

BLACK…

Part 2 here

The Stranglers plus Nine Below Zero Live at The Hammersmith Apollo. Sat 8th March 2014

Part 2. Hammersmith! Canadian Pigeons; Penguins: And Jackie Brown!

Full article here

The Stranglers plus Nine Below Zero Live at The Hammersmith Apollo.

And so the black hordes issued from their temporary subterranean nest like a gigantic colony of human Soldier Ants. I took up my place with The Advanced Guard who positioned themselves in neat rows along the Front line. Meanwhile the Duke of Cornwall brought up the Rear!

Nine Below Zero took to the Stage and provided a solid set of straight up no nonsense R&B with a nod to Wilko Johnson they played an excellent rendition of Twenty Yards Behind.  Tight! Is probably the best way to describe this band who sounded great in here tonight.

IMG_8024

Toward the latter part of their set they were joined by Squeeze front man Glenn Tilbrook who played a fine mix of complementary Rhythm guitar coupled with some cool solos and the odd vocal line or two. Great Stuff!

IMG_8026

The venue had now filled out to what looked and felt like capacity, hot and sweaty and nowhere to move. The air buzzed with anticipation awaiting the arrival of our Heroes.

BLACK

Some white noise crackles and interference on the screens gave way to the sound of Waltzinblack cranked through the PA… It sped up and slowed down while the screens came to life with the words of the Aural Sculpture Manifesto… a superb, inspired, atmospheric build up for the main event.

The band walked on and kicked into London Lady and the whole place just took off! What a great start to the set; short, sharp sweet! No let-up straight on to No More Heroes followed by the seldom aired Coup De Grace which sounded superb tonight.

strangs

The Stranglers had announced early on that they would be playing a song from each of their 17 studio albums on this their Ruby Anniversary tour. It seemed hard to believe they would achieve this goal but tonight they delivered admirably and then some… The band that keeps on giving, they played full on for around two hours tonight.

JJ

Was it You, Threatened and Summat Outa Nowt found JJ on fine form, followed by the awesome Peasant in The Big Shitty, one of my all-time favourites and certainly a highlight of the evening (there were so many!) with Dave’s commanding vocal performance. Baz did a great job on Still Life and Midnight Summer Dream. All the while the screens giving us fast forward glimpses of the bands history along with shots of the fans during NMH. And some great trippy atmospheric graphics especially on Peasant and MSD! And drummer Jim was clearly really finding his feet with the subtler aspects of the beats in black and doing an all-round bang up job!

Baz

A slight pause….

JET BLACK

…The legendary founding fathers name rolled across the screens to the crowds delight. The master had joined the proceedings early tonight.

Jet

JET BLACK JET BLACK….

Golden Brown headed up Always The Sun with this Trio being rounded out by the suberb Genetix, with JJ’s bass rocking the place to its foundations along with impossible timing of the Drums and other instruments. Pure genius! Then as quickly as he had arrived he departed, handing the drum stool back to his worthy deputy.

Disco Dancing Delights could mean only one thing the superb Thrown Away while Never to Look Back completed another clutch of JJ songs. The band were firing on all cylinders and with songs like NTLB the current line-up really seem to be finding their mojo (not that they ever lost it!). The set was so rich and varied tonight I’ll not go into full details (see attached graphic for that) a real treat for the fans with enough of a smattering of hits and classics to keep everyone happy. Once again Freedom is Insane proved itself a worthy modern classic.

setlist

Parched, I had to head off in search of refreshment during the first encore of Norfolk Coast, it presented me with a great chance to see the rest of the audience! The people were into it from the front to the back of the venue. Singing along and dancing. Everyone appeared up for it!

Earlier, we had been alerted to the presence of a Canadian Pigeon and saw such really enjoying the evening’s proceedings. Although the Missing Penguin did remain just that!

JET BLACK JET BLACK JET BLACK….

All too soon we were at the final encore and Jet was once more able to join in for the dual drum assault of tank. It really doesn’t get any better than this. Quite remarkable!

To summarize; the pace of the set was full on with a nice mix of light and dark (black) and the visual element was really great with the screens. I wish I had a rewind button and could go over it all again, the Directors cut… …but I lent the Sugar Tongs to Ravenette!

Slowly but surely we were ushered back out into the night from whence we came by the patient venue staff!

None wanted this evening to ever end and rightly so!

The Duke of Cornwall fell back at ease, while some of the others went back underground and a few of us brave souls ventured to India in search of nourishment.

We returned from India for a final report to the Duke before heading off, to a scene reminiscent of Jackie Brown, in search of Bag Lady’s Motor Vehicle.

The Black rubber hit the Black tar then the Black DMs hit the pavement and brought me home to drift off once more into the blackness!

Over and Out…

Black…

Thanks to Andy Miller for Photos of The Stranglers and to Audrey Grant for the Photo of the Stranglers set list.

P.S. apologies for errors and omissions!

Part 1 here

Gig review – Straighten Out – The Hope and Anchor Islington.

Straighten Out – Live at The Hope and Anchor Islington – Friday 20th September 2013.

Apologies once more for delays in relaying this message…

The time streams are particularly busy at the moment and that coupled with various anomalies of one kind or another has necessitated a temporary mothballing of any plans for time travel. Particularly in light of Sir Bee’s stranding in 1981!

All of which beggars the question: What do to on a Friday night whilst forced to stay in the present? The answer being: Go to see ‘Straighten Out’ play at The Hope and Anchor in Islington.

handa

What better place for a tribute to The Stranglers to play?

The Hope and Anchor played an important part in the early career of The Stranglers. In November 1977 the live recording of ‘Tits’ From the White EP was recorded here at the session that would later be released as’ Live at The Hope and Anchor’. And then-landlord ‘Fred Grainger’ (who gave the band a much needed ‘break’) was name checked as ‘Grainger man’ in the song ‘Bitching’.

For those neither old enough nor fortunate enough to have seen The Stranglers here during this period, this gig presented a perfect opportunity to hear the MK1 songs played live in this setting.

A fair number of fansinblack filled out this little basement venue to be greeted by the band kicking off with a lively ‘Burning Up Time’. Treating us to a set packed with classics like: ‘Toiler on The Sea’, ‘Goodbye Toulouse’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Princess of The Streets’ to name a few. The band seemed tight and on form and there was a good banter with the crowd. And the sound…

…The sound was fantastic and very ‘very’ authentic, from the Snarling vocal and biting guitar, to the swirling keyboard* via the growling bass and relentless pounding drums. If you had closed your eyes it could’ve been 1977.

The set was like a ‘best of’ compilation compiled by real fans. We were treated to ‘The Raven’, ‘Who Wants The World’, ‘Go Buddy Go’, ‘London Lady’ and many more. Some of the material in this set rarely gets played by the actual band these days, songs like ‘Tramp’ and the wonderful ‘Peasant in The Big Shitty’.

The crowd responded in kind with energetic revelry and word perfect accompaniment, just as if they were actually seeing The Stranglers. At one point the band took a quick poll of the audience to see if they wanted ‘Down in The Sewer’ or ‘Genetix’ to be played… I requested both but ‘Sewer’ won the day and it did not disappoint!

Before we knew it the band had left the stage. Then one enthusiastic crowd member got on the mic to stir up the crowds appreciation for what they had just witnessed. The crowd didn’t need much encouragement here as they were cheering and howling for an encore.

An encore was duly given; a rousing ‘No More Heroes’ followed by a brilliant ‘Tank’. Then it was all over and the fans slowly began to file out of the venue with big fat grins on their faces.

Highly recommended!

*The inclusion of a Hammond organ and other period keyboards gave a real authenticity to the sound – Stunning!

Additionally the event was being filmed – some of the videos  from YouTube below:


The Stranglers – Feel It Live – Croydon 31313

The Final Chapter…
And so it came to pass that the three did go their separate ways and there remained just the one named EiTC to participate in the finale of this saga…
Which was to take place in the dark netherworld known as Croydon…
After rising from deep slumber, bought about by weariness from the previous sojourn, a great temporal anomaly was encountered. At first it was 9 and then in the same instant it was 10 and although this meant an extra hour had been spent in slumber, it did not further assist the process of recovery on this palindromic day.
So the chariot was boarded and headed in the direction of South and much sooner did he arrive in Croydon than he had before….
Although he now stood alone it was not for much longer as he was to be shown much warmth and good cheer from the clan of the familyinblack.
And soon he was inside the heart of the citadel known as Fairfield Halls.
And this strange, spacious cavern did have seats directly in the place where the celebrations were due to be held, although this did not deter the faithful from their revelry.
The Godfathers did once more make good cheer with their hearty ditties.
Then, it was time for the final flourish of the Meninblack for this, their current campaign…
And they proceeded with much vigour as if they were just starting out… The faithful were rewarded.
The ceremony was very similar to that witnessed in Newcastle with no deviation from the program and the founding father in residence.
And while some of the crowd did dance and enjoy the ceremony with abandon at the feet of the saviours, others did participate from their seated position.
Once more the masses filed out into the cold night with much happiness – although this was fused with a heart heavy in the knowledge that this was to be the last time…
… Until the next time!
Great gig, nice to meet lots of lovely fansinblack…
Uncle Sam you’re in for a treat! This band is firing on all cylinders

The Stranglers – Feel it Live – Newcastle 29/03/13

So, newly refreshed the three journeyed to the east…
Across the snowy landscape, at times crossing the border into lands unknown…
Eventually they made way to the fair city of Newcastle.
Again sanctuary was sought within the enclave known as Premier Inn. Where one of the number succumbed to the fever known as the dreaded lurgy!
Then they were two…
And the two did venture deep into the heart of the city.
Whereupon they did encounter once more a ceremonial gathering, where the natives did speak with a strange tongue. And they did party most hardily, welcoming travellers from far and near into the fold.
The ones known as the godfathers did once more prepare well the throng for the arrival of the Meninblack…
Two drum kits did indicate the presence of the founding father. While mystical runes did indicate that today was the anniversary of the arrival on this plane of existence of the grand wizard known as Dave… Happy Birthday sire!
A fine evening of sonic delight was provided for and lapped up by one and all. The master of the low frequency range called by the name of JJ did receive a native garment known as a bra which he did adorn his crown with much to the merriment of the masses. The one named Baz did put in a fine performance and was seen to enjoy the occasion very well.
The great opus known as Genetix did bring much joy to EiTC, who was heard to utter the following words… Top night, great sound, great crowd, f*cking awesome!

The Stranglers – Feel It Live – Carlisle Sands Centre 28/03/13

DISCLAIMER: the following was written by a distant traveller in a road-weary trance….

At 5am the two travellers began to face the day ahead.
A little later after much toil and hardship (and a lie in for one of them),
They left Southampton and headed north…

Arriving in London much later they sought out the one known as Elvis in The Clouds, adding him to their number.
Then they were three!
This unlikely trio set sail on the old black river again heading north, always to the north.
Crossing the calmness of the m40 they headed fearlessly on to the m6,
Despite all the portents of doom and gloom!
It was a fierce battle but eventually they made good progress (just past Preston actually)!

Then as the evening sun began to set, they feasted their eyes on the beauteous joy afforded them by the surrounding landscape
(This almost made up for spending most of the day sitting on the m6!).

Finally they came upon the enchanted village of Carlisle…
Where (after visiting the sanctuary known as premier inn) they ventured into the heart of the local festivities. Arriving at the juncture of the midway point in the set of those brave warriors the godfathers… Whose sound the three approved of.
Then in the pause of the festivities the one known as EiTC sought an audience with the great sage Toiler on The Sea ( nice to meteor).

Before long it was time… A strange sound heralded the arrival of the saviours…
The Meninblack were here and the people were joyous and most grateful for the aural delights.
The warrior Jet Black was not in attendance but this did not dampen the celebrations too much in spite of him being sorely missed. In his absence the masses were treated to Down in The Sewer and the band did sound very good and the crowd were very happy and it’s been a flipping long day and the narrator is off to bed g’night!

The Stranglers ‘Feel It Live’ Guildford 12th March 2013

It was great to see The Stranglers in Guildford last night. However I can’t help feeling the whole show had an element of the surreal to it. Almost like an out of body experience….

Starting at the beginning:

The venue itself with its angled staircase down to the bar from street level made me feel rather tipsy and I hadn’t dropped a touch! Also, I noticed that the super clean toilets didn’t seem to have any urinals. Then when I pointed an inquisitive punter in the direction of the Gents he went off in that direction and retorted in a rather disgruntled manner ‘That’s the Ladies!’ Oops!

Moving swiftly on, the sound was great in there last night! Support act The Godfathers made a good impression and really made an effort to get the crowd going. To paraphrase singer Peter Coyne “I hope you’re getting warmer, we’re the warm up act for The Stranglers and if you lot don’t warm up they’re going to duff us up!” And a valiant attempt was made by them to avoid a beating with their hard edged R&B.

On to the MIB, nice to see two drum kits, Jet Black in the house! The light show rolled fast-forward through the years indicating the 39 year lifespan of the band, to the delightful weirdness that is ‘Waltzinblack’. The band walked on and JJ fired up the intro of ‘Toiler on The Sea’. Sounding great so far! Next up the classic ‘Goodbye Toulouse’ followed swiftly by ‘Grip’. All seeming fine… But wait!

Whilst the sound was fantastic the band seemed a little unsettled. The crowd was friendly but it must be said it was one of the tamest crowds I’ve ever witnessed for the MiB! May be due to the fact that there were a lot of families right down at the front with a mixture of the really young and the really rather senior. It seemed like the band may have misread this gentle audience as being unenthusiastic. After ‘Golden Brown’ Baz directly asked the crowd “Are you enjoying yourselves? Thank god for that!?” Clearly Baz and JJ were really putting a great effort into stimulating a response. This kind of cross purposes seemed to carry on for the whole gig with the two frontmen putting everything into it, seemingly to little avail. Unawares that the crowd were lapping it up!

To add to the surreal mix JJ was looking a little tired (to the point of seeming a little spaced out!) But he really held it together with faultless playing (bass solo to ‘Genetix’ outstanding, pure genius!). And it didn’t deter him from being very frothy and playful in his taunting of the crowd. At the end of the show he went over to Baz and rested his head on his shoulder, as if they were consoling one another.

Back to the show: The set was really great, dropping some of the staples that fans expect to hear like ‘Hanging around’ for example and adding in some vintage classics such as ‘Bring on The Nubiles’, which for me was the highlight of the evening with its swift tight execution.

The newer songs were well received with ‘Mercury Rising’ receiving a healthy cheer as it was announced. ‘Freedom is Insane’ sounded rather psychedelic in there last night, brilliant! And Baz sung his heart out on ‘Norfolk Coast’ really doing the song justice. Relentless held its own as a classic of the modern era.

We were treated to ‘Midnight Summer Dream/European Female’ both sounding really great. ‘Lost Control’ was notable by its absence.

The light show was really good, although apparently it’s been toned down a little. Jim did a grand job on the drums considering the boots he has to fill. The crowd really didn’t seem to get it when Jet Black came on. Although I’d put that down to the mix of people in there. The master seemed as great as ever and was absorbed with the job at hand. His drumming for ‘Who Wants The World’ was full steam ahead! At the end of the show he peered over the top of his toms and gave us a grin and a wave, cool!

The ever grinning Dave was well on form, his keys sounded great and he was in fine voice for ‘Genetix’.

All in all a great night, lovely to meet lots of fellow fans in black and witness this most unique and brilliant band put in a great performance.
As for the surreal, maybe it’s something they put in the water in Guildford!

Here is Genetix…

While here is Golden Brown complete with Baz’s comments
>

Giants by The Stranglers – Album Review

EiTC Reviews The Stranglers new Album ‘Giants’

Gargantuan… 

A new Stranglers album is always going to create a lot of interest. And album number 17 ‘Giants’ is doing just that. The internet is buzzing with anticipation. Early reviews are largely favourable (for good reason!) which is promising! Fansinblack are itching to get their paws on this latest offering. There’s even an anxious whisper that this may be a parting shot from the Men in Black (Does this mean Adios?)

After much anticipation a promo copy landed on my doormat a few days ago and here is my early attempt at getting a grip on Giants!

On first listen there is an unknown quality that’s almost hard to get. Fans will be familiar with that feeling, after all this is The Stranglers; the strange and unknown are to be expected and relished! So let’s establish, this album is not instant, it’s a grower! And in places it’s a growler too!

Okay, so I’ve listened to the CD in 5 different environments now; Studio monitors, High end PC monitors (x 2 i.e. home/work), MP3 player and the car stereo. And the good news is that it plays well in all these places. And it sounds good at modest levels or cranked (sorry neighbours…). Other reviews and the band themselves have alluded to a raw feeling on the production of this album and they’re not kidding! Favouring feeling over polish whilst not sacrificing any of the sonic delight, the album evokes memories of the first clutch of albums with a recorded live/minimal overdubs essence to it. There are also nods to the later albums in places.

On to the songs:

Instrumental ‘Another Camden afternoon’,  comes in with a bluesy intro and understated bass before opening out into classic Stranglers territory with catchy guitar licks, growling bass and onto a slow build on the keyboard (a great Hammond sound, or is it actually a Hammond Mr Greenfield?) and a rock solid beat. This tune originally had lyrics but they have been omitted as the band thought it stood up better as an instrumental. The backing vocals remain in what I presume to be the chorus but will we ever get to hear it with the lyrics? Verdict instant gratification!

‘Freedom is insane’ is the track most fans will be familiar with from recent live shows. This songs atmospheric introduction starts with waves and gentle cymbals (slightly reminiscent of ‘Riders on the storm’), on to a slow melodic build. Then it kicks in to the main thrust of the song, which for me is somehow evocative of the classic Toiler on the Sea. This song is ‘insanely’ catchy, with a fantastic keyboard solo (a tasteful nod towards ‘Walk on by’) and a cool Stranglers style Spaghetti Western lead guitar. JJ sings his heart out on this one, easily ranking as one of his better vocal performances.

The opening bars of title track ‘Giants’ has a feel evocative of the first couple of albums (keyboard in particular). JJ takes it down a notch vocally, his trademark spoken vocal style maturing into more of a Leonard Cohen style delivery, which is very nice once you’ve given it room to grow. Never has mellow sounded so menacing!

Lowlands gets better with every listen with its punky guitar intro and its tricky timing it takes a while to get it.  The unison run between the instruments is beautifully crafted and most effective. There is a persistent driving feel to the main verse riff that is really pertinent to the ‘life on the road’ theme of the song, very effective!

‘Boom boom’ comes across as a very catchy pop song, with a tip of the hat to 1978 lyrically “…move the Grey to Black and White”. Nice fairground organ, a jaunty pop song with a perky beat. And a great downward progression on the bridge.

‘My Fickle Resolve’ highlights the Spartan production but doesn’t suffer for it, kicking off with a melancholic reverberated bass melody that sticks like superglue. This jazzy piece is catchier than the common cold with echoes of ‘Dutch Moon’. Jet has some subtle brush work going on here. I fell for this one as soon as I heard it on its live debut. Baz’s voice shines on this one. Dave’s closing keyboard run is pure class! This song is sweetly melancholy with hidden depths!

‘Time was once on my side’ definitely sounds better on the album itself than the radio broadcasts we were treated to. A little too much distortion on the vocals causes them to be slightly incoherent but overall a good song with a great ending.

‘Mercury Rising’, Wow! A real grower, the bass could be right off the black & white session (both sonically and stylistically! ‘Enough Time’ anyone?). I get why some reviewers have made the Marc Bolan reference with Baz’s vocal style here but I’d say it’s more nodding towards Beefheart. Comparisons don’t matter however, as it’s good to hear Baz experimenting a bit more with his voice revealing some wonderful quirkiness very fitting of this band!

‘Adios’, another song which is not instant but let it grow and you won’t regret it! This number wouldn’t be out of place on a Tarantino or an Almodovar soundtrack. And from what I can make out of the lyric with my rudimentary Espanol, there’s a real sense of finality coming across. Are they trying to tell us something? Some great guitar moments and lovely atmospheric keyboards, interwoven with a steady tango beat from Mr Black. The switch to English during the atmospheric closing is very effective. Notable absence of bass in this number!

15 steps is another grower, a jaunty rockabilly/Johnny Cash style number with a catchy 2 step beat. It took a couple of listens but it’s worth it. Highlights include the great opening guitar lick, Mr Burnel’s sublime bass runs, some really neat guitar work from Baz, a dizzying unison run between guitar and keyboard  plus of course Jets rock steady beat. Lyrically, this is an autobiographical number about the bands West Country accommodation. Great stuff!

The Stranglers have done it again! ‘Giants’ is not so much a return to form as an affirmation/underlining of the Legend of The Men in Black. In places it alludes to the past while never being derivative, it sounds like The Stranglers but still has a sense of progress. It is already attracting wildly differing opinions from the faithful and media alike (it is a Stranglers album after all!), with the majority being well on the side of those in favour. I’m also guessing that, due to it not being instant, some of those who weren’t initially impressed may well yet succumb to the greatness on offer here.

As for The Stranglers themselves, well if it is pipe and slippers time for them, what a fitting epitaph this would make (especially with the soon to be revealed cover art!).

EiTC 1st March 2012.