The Stranglers revival continues at top speed. Not only content with their biggest UK tour since 1979 playing their classic and, arguably first post punk album, Black and White and including shows at Manchester’s huge Apollo next spring they are also finally getting the credit for their big influence and decades long presence. The band are currently out in Europe selling out a tour of the continent.
Long term supporters of the Stranglers at LTW we sent our man, Albert Camembert, on the road with the band to report back on their Euro tour.
Our man reports from the the first night of the Stranglers European jaunt that takes in 5 countries.
The Stranglers 2015 European tour starts in a venue near Paris – a modern 750 capacity arts/youth centre. It’s a very well set out operation, some 20 odd km west of Paris at the end of the RER line. A wander round the town itself reveals a wealthy area with a huge amount of shops, much bigger than say Stockport is to Manchester.
We miss the support as we’re eating in the clean, well lit town square. Once inside the venue we discover a well appointed bar with friendly staff and a small-ish live room with maybe 300 terrace style seats at the rear, a small balcony and a medium sized dances floor for about another 350.
There’s a few Brits in the audience, but not many.
The lights go down, “The Meninblack” intro tape runs, the band walk on stage and it’s straight into a hard fast “Toiler On The Sea.” Quickly a one man wild dervish of a moshpit breaks out to my left, and we’re off. The sound is stunning, loud but perfectly clear, there are no security stage front, but we don’t need it and there’s a friendly moshpit of 40 or so, and plenty of room to breath for everyone else.
I only take my spot 5 minutes before the gig and I’m on the third row with no crash barriers, I’ve never been this close to them. They cut quickly into “Straighten Out” then quickly again into “Grip”. The set is a mix of post and pre Hugh songs and the difference is not noticeable at all these days with newer songs like ” Relentless” and “Norfolk Coast” sounding and being received as well as “5 minutes”.
The band are on great form, and clearly in a good mood, there’s obviously a lot of love in The Stranglers camp these days, from Baz playing up to JJ and the pair of them lurking and strutting round the smaller than usual sized stage, Dave playing keyboard solos one handed so he can have a drink (and getting a great cheer) and Baz winding up the roadies trying to fix his pedals.
It’s warm out front, Baz throws a towel to/at a fan he knows. A 5 year old kid appears dancing in the front row mid set and Baz hands him a plectrum whilst playing. The kids face beams and he proudly gives it his dad for safe keeping.
The band is an absolute joy to watch, and this is certainly up there with one of the best times I’ve seen them. On “Time Was Once On My Side” the sub bass on Dave’s keyboard solo is so loud that my internal organs are vibrating, brilliant! The same loudness trick is employed on JJ’s teasing bass intro to “No More Heroes” at the end of the set too.
Tonight’s set is about a third newer songs, third pop singles and a third punk classics. There’s a few lesser played songs in the set to add spice like ” European Female”, “Tank” and “La Folie in the encore, and ” I Feel Like A Wog” mid set in a well paced set.
The tour continues for another 2 weeks or so and I will return to report!
Words and pictures by Albert Camembert