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