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!
Well, it’s the annual Stranglers Tour innit!
Well, things are so hectic – Guildford presents the 1st opportunity for EiTC…
And the Ruts DC are supporting this year…
Well what you waiting for?
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!
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.
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.
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!
Words (and Jim Pictures): Matthew Elvis Brown.
Pictures and Videos: Andy Miller.