The Stranglers made their annual journey to Cardiff and it was met with the usual adoration via a loyal fan base. On this occasion it is a full house at The Tramshed and there was not a square millimetre spare in the upper or lower viewing areas. The switch from the usual surrounds of the local university did not affect the punters coming out in their droves and this mass gathering was also in early attendance to catch support act Therapy? in full flow.
From that point forward is was a series of seminal songs from The Stranglers. The quarter still retain original members in the form of Jean Jacques Burnel (bass/vocals) and Dave Greenfield (keyboard/vocals). The four piece is supplemented by Baz Warne (guitar/vocals) and Jim MacAulay (drums) and their swirling sound echoes around the auditorium. The band switched the pitch from full on belters through the gearbox to the experimental and leftfield and onwards via more mainstream pop leanings while also absorbing the more subtle narcotic induced balladeering.
The set list read:
Waltzinblack, Curfew, (Get a) Grip (on Yourself), 15 Steps, Bear Cage, Nuclear Device (The Wizard of Aus), Norfolk Coast, Peaches, Don’t bring Harry, Golden Brown, Always the sun, Walk on By, Water, Something better Change, Duchess, Time was once on my Side, Just like nothing on Earth, Hanging Around, Freedom is Insane, I feel like a Wog, London Lady, Tank, Go Buddy Go and No more Heroes.
The set paid heavy dues to the halcyon years where Hugh Cornwell was to the front and Jett Black offered a solid backbeat. However, there was also a sway to the post 1990 period when Hugh departed and the band took on other identities. Jett at 79 has hung up his sticks – so The Stranglers circa 2018 are a different proposition from that controversial and colossal early period that begun 44 years ago. However, the band can still put on a show and for nearly two hours they entertained with their eclectic, electric eccentricities. Burnel is the ultimate cool presence and at 66 is in remarkable shape – defying any age preconceptions which could support the statement of ‘the worst crime that I ever did was play in rock n roll’. His sidekicks provide a platform for a top team effort and as the music world lose more stellar talents – such as the recent departure of Mark E. Smith – it is uplifting that we still have The Stranglers!
Long live the Meninblack!