The Stranglers @ Academy 1
You can always tell when spring is here because The Stranglers invariably play in Manchester around this time of year.
This time they have brought fellow punksters The Rezillos with them who sadly are still trying to be the same band they were almost 40 years ago, still dressing the same too and it just doesn't work. They are almost a parody of themselves. A new song was played but wasn't punk it was just like a poor rock song. There was a 50 year old bloke stood next to me who started pogoing when they played Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight, his beer going all over the place - a far more amusing sight than watching the band. A cover of the 60’s classic River Deep, Mountain High simply confirmed how disappointing and bad they were.
The Stranglers have now been going for nearly 41 years and released a multitude of albums in that time. And they are punk/new wave stalwarts unlike The Clash and the Sex Pistols who imploded in the 70s and 80s.
Having released so many albums the band have a wide selection of songs to choose from, a combination of hits and album tracks – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself), Always The Sun and Duchess being particular crowd pleasers.
Drummer Jet Black made a rare appearance this evening part way through the set. He only plays when the band is in a venue where the stage is large enough for both his and regular drummer Jim MacAulay’s kit. Due to his failing health (heart and breathing difficulties) he only plays for three songs, one of which is Golden Brown. But still it is amazing that at 76 he can still manage to play at this level. And although new permanent drummer Jim MacAulay is a solid pounder of the skins he doesn’t have the jazz swing that Black brought to the band.
Along the stage Dave Greenfield is a great keyboard player and an integral part of the band but they need to face facts, he can't sing and when he does they are the only low points of the show. Interestingly, guitarist Baz Wayne, who has been in the band sometime now sings the majority of the songs, Jean-Jacques Burnel mainly providing backing vocals.
The band are quite obviously older and their stage moments slower. The audience ageing with the band - tonight was an excuse for some over 50 punks who only get let out once every six months to get arseholed. There must have been half a dozen guys dragged or carried out by friends who had just gone too far.
Encores made up of Peaches, Walk On By and No More Heroes just about nailed it. Overall a solid set and few would complain about it. Personally my favourite Stranglers song, 5 Minutes, wasn’t played but that didn’t spoil an excellent gig.
Words & Photos: Anthony Firmin