Portsmouth Pyramid Centre

The Stranglers

It’s a near sell-out crowd in the Pyramids tonight as we await the arrival of Guilford’s finest. But first up are friends of the headliners Mike Marlin. This is a band with its influence mainly steeped in the 80’s. The vocals (to this reviewer) bear a slight resemblance to Ricky Ross while the overall sound is peppered with any number of influences. Mike himself is a bearded Bono look-alike but the similarity ends there.

The keys on most tracks are reminiscent of the headliners while some guitar riffs are Bowie-esque. Set highlights include the “Vienna” inspired “The Magician” and Steve McQueen with its “Angels-inspired” intro. This 5-piece can clearly play but to me its all a little too formatted. They end a short set to decent applause.

Second up are Irish Folk-Rockers The Popes. They quickly up the tempo with their upbeat bouncy little ditties. Formerly Shane McGowan’s band they are now fronted by the energetic Paul “Mad Dog” McGuiness. His energy and high kicks are a sight to behold for a man of his “years”! They immediately get the crowd onside with the rocking ‘Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down’ which is well received. This 6 piece have clearly paid their dues over the years and the years touring are reflected in their tight set. There’s no shortage of instruments on show either as we get a wonderful mid-song mandolin ‘duel’ between Messer’s Whiskey Mick and Mr. Allen. “Sleepless Nights” is another highlight, an ode we are told to wiling the hours away at Her Majesty’s Pleasure! They leave us with the excellent “Outlaw Heaven” and the audience oblige them with generous applause.

The Pyramids: The Stranglers
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And so to the Men in Black! Tonight we are greeted by only two of the original line-up. Jet Black has been taken ill and is replaced by drum tech and Pompey-ite Ian Barnard. Anyone in any doubt about his ability with the sticks needn’t have worried as he turns in an accomplished performance. They open with an old favourite in the shape of “Burning Up Time” which is very well received. Then follows a set of old and new,interspersed with tracks from their latest long player “Giants”. The classic ‘Hanging Around’ gets an early showcase,a huge cheer goes up as son as JJ plays the first bars. Mr. Burnell is looking both confident and happy tonight,reflected in his note perfect performance. Dave (keys) Greenfield calmly just performs at the back behind his extensive kit, looking up only occasionally to scour the stage.

Looking at the crowd tonight its almost like welcoming home heroes as we all nod and move as one in appreciation. For me its been a 20 year wait and one without Hugh (Cornwell). Baz (bass) Warne shares vocal duties with JJB and puts a new twist on the once legendary “Cornwell vocal”. Talking of twists, “Golden Brown” is quite distinctly different in intro but not unpleasant. A shorter but heavier “Walk on By” is a set highlight for me but its difficult to find a low in their set-there are just so many good songs,old and new. “Giants” is dedicated to Portsmouth F.C. by Baz and is well received, while “Peaches” gets the first big sing-along. Early classic “5 minutes” warms up those more energetic souls among us before the classic “No More Heroes”. They leave us with “Something Better Change” but return for an encore with the brilliant “Duchess” and “All Day, and All of The Night”. Thinking that’s it we get a final encore with “Tank”. The band then exits to fantastic enthusiastic applause. All in all a great performance from an accomplished band with plenty left in the tank!!


Setlist: The Stranglers
Burning Up Time
Hanging Around
Golden brown
Walk On By
No More Heroes
Something Better Change

All Day,and All of the Night

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Review by Ross A Ferrone.
Pictures by Robert Whetton.