Gig Review – The Stranglers/Nine Below Zero – Hampton Pool 11th July 2015
A Family Affair.
There are many different kinds of family of all shapes and sizes, near, dear and distant, blood ties and non-blood ties. Stranglers fans are referred to as the Family in Black and like most other types of family they have their unique mix of quirky characters brought together by a familial bond, which in this case is the bonhomie and camaraderie of a mutual shared passion/obsession.
Today The Stranglers and Nine Below Zero are playing at Hampton Open Air Swimming Pool in the suburban south west of London not far from the banks of the river Thames. A beautiful setting for an open air gig in this (apparently) genteel corner of England. And it’s a beautiful summer day, perfect picnic weather to boot.
There is a good mix of families here at a function that resembles something like your eccentric Uncle’s barbecue but on a grand scale. Deck chairs, blankets, hampers and a whole load of people chilling and enjoying themselves including some enjoying a swim in the pool. All of which makes for a strangely charming setting for tonight’s concert.
Continuing on the familial theme, there are three generations of my own family here tonight. While on the subject of the settings/surroundings, my own dear Pater (rest his soul) was a resident of Hampton for a while and being a regular swimmer, would take a dip in the heated open-air pool here in the depths of Winter.
Up first Nine Below Zero deliver the goods with their patented brand of no-nonsense straight up Rhythm and Blues, perfect for a summer afternoon/evening.
Tonight their Mojo is most definitely in good working order with brilliant bass-work, dynamic drumming and sublime blues-harp providing the perfect vehicle for front-man/guitarist Dennis Greaves as they play on into the setting sun.
Dusk into nightfall and the approaching darkness sees the arrival of The Stranglers and the crowd begin to pack themselves in tightly down at the front. Waltzinblack and they’re off!
Starting with Toiler the energy and bearing of the band are upbeat and infectious. They’re clearly enjoying themselves and it is the sort of enjoyment that is infectious for the crowd who respond with a mighty mosh of momentous proportions (the antithesis of the afore-mentioned gentility)!
The sound is glorious tonight; JJ’s bass is growling and prominent just as it was at Eden a couple of weeks ago, perhaps something to do with being outdoors. Dave’s keys have a clarity and are present in all the right places. Baz’s Tele bites and soars. And Jim’s drums are pounding and powerful.
The front men have the stage covered from all angles interacting with the crowd, themselves and their band-mates. Baz’s banter goes from strength to strength as he teases the locals with his mock BBC English Accent (passable but with his north-eastern twang still evident). Again we get the Twelve Inch mix of Five Minutes with it’s extended intro etc Etc EiTC…
All too soon we’re at the encore and tonight we get a mesmerising Walk On By (missing from last nights set at Worthing) as band and crowd alike enter a trance-like state during the fantastic extended musical section. Bass beating, No More Heroes and Goodnight.
Great fun and happy times in Hampton…
B&W Photos: Andy Miller.
Colour Photos (for gif sequence): Mr T.
Colour NBZ: EiTC.
From Mr T:
From Andy Miller: