Charity Swales

The Stranglers @O2 Academy

It’s a night of nostalgia at the Liverpool Academy for the return of the legendary Guilford band The Stranglers, a band who’s seedy, aggressive, no compromise and versatile punk rock has managed to be passed down by generation after generation. As a 20 year old, i’m missing out by quite a few years on witnessing the band in their prime, but tonight I head to the O2 Academy in anticipation.

The first night of The Definitive Tour is packed out by diehard fans, a sea of balding heads in The Stranglers’ merchandise older than myself. What exactly definitive means for The Stranglers is up for debate, maybe it’s time for one of the most influential punk bands of the 70’s to hang the black shirts up in the wardrobe and box their instruments up for storage. With material spanning over 40 years, it takes expertise to hone down and craft a setlist which will appeal to fans of all generations, even the 11 year olds dragged by their Dad to hear some “proper music”.

Despite the absence of the original line up in the form of drummer Jet Black and frontman Hugh Cornwell who left the band in 1990, the band keep the ship afloat by inviting touring drummer Jim MacAulay and frontman Baz Warne.

Beams of red pour into the crowd, as the latter pour overpriced San Miguel down their throat. A chorus of cheers breaks out, as the black figures that soundtracked the older crowds youth descend on to the stage. The night kicks of with the sound of Dave Greenfield’s flourishing keyboard foreshadowing a night of fun and games with its distinctive carousel like sound for Waltzinblack.

The band deliver what the crowd want, a setlist packed with definitive hits from the rumbling bass of 1996 hit (Get A) Grip [On Yourself], to the notoriously sleazy Peaches, that is the hit most archetypal of the band, so sleazy in fact that bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel has the sweat wiped off of his face by an assistant.

Golden Brown delivers a more poignant attitude to the night, surrounded by the upbeat but ominous sonic sound of Greenfield‘s keyboard, it’s only in the context of a live situation that you realise how unsettling the lyrics and atmosphere of the song actually are. Another definitive hit, that grabs even the younger members of the audience’s attention.

In between the music there’s a bit of friendly banter between the crowd and the band, as one individual calls Warne out on his hometown Sunderland, he tongue in cheek replies back “Sunderland c**t? You scouse t**t standing in the dark with your little black Doc Martens on with piss down your leg. Get fucked”.

The band get through an impressive amount of their back catalogue from Hanging Around, Just Like Nothing On Earth and even a Dionne Warwick cover (Walk On By). Ripping into a much desired encore, they crack out the dirty Nice N Sleazy and the defiant No More Heroes, with the lyrics “Whatever happened to your heroes?”, inviting a satirical sense of irony to the night.

It’s impressive to see the stamina of a group, who refuse to let age wane their spirit.

Check out the best of The Stranglers here .

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