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