Salisbury City Hall

The Stranglers


As we wave goodbye to Winter we at Rock Regeneration make a rare visit to Wiltshire; Salisbury City Hall to be precise, for a classic Punk-Post/Punk double header. Guildford’s finest The Stranglers are in town, ably assisted by tour support The Alarm. It may be a school night but you wouldn’t know it – tonight’s gig is a sell-out. At 7.40 pm Mike (Peters) and the boys take to the stage. At this point may I say I’m not a massive Alarm fan. In fact, last time I saw them on a headline tour they just came across as a band on their last legs. Tonight however I’m simply blown away. Is it the Wiltshire air, or something in the water over here? For a support act I’ve not seen a reaction quite like this for some time.

They open with a bass-heavy “Kill, Kill, Kill” – Craig (Adams) on the bass is in bullish mood as the power reverberates around the room. Mike (vox) soon accompanies him with a passionate vocal delivery which remains constant throughout their set. He is smiling all night it seems and his vocal has lost none of its power. “Superchannel” is a great warm-up for “Poppy Fields” which Mike dedicates to all “the lost souls”. His delivery becomes even more heartfelt and emotional, not least because of the illness he has been through. He takes time to highlight his own charity and its importance, which is not lost on this sizeable crowd. The response is warm and generous as we listen to his passionate delivery.

The Alarm
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“The Drunk and The Disorderly” is a wonderful song we can all relate to. Mike’s vocal at times is gravelly but largely he carries it off. Behind him on the skins ‘Smiley’ is power personified while James (Stevenson) to his left nonchalantly plays his guitar. “One Guitar” sees yet more passion in Mike’s vocal, while crowd favourite “68 Guns” is given an acoustic intro that’s new to me. It really works as Mike virtually whispers the opening chorus. “My Town” follows where we are encouraged to sing along by a singer now in his element. Mike is at pains to dedicate “Spirit of ’76” to The Stranglers, and goes on in great detail to thank them and their crew for their hospitality. It’s a tad self-indulgent but we get it, which leads nicely onto final track ‘Where Were You Hiding, When The Storm Broke’. This is the perfect set closer. This half full room are right behind him as we sing along one last time. As support slots go this was one of the better one’s I’ve witnessed recently. One could be forgiven for thinking it was a ‘headline’ performance.

And so to the main event. Tonight The Stranglers are playing their legendary 1978 LP “Black and White” in its entirety. As with any Stranglers gig I’ve been to the stage is decked out in Black and White (unsurprisingly). At 9pm on the dot, they stride onstage one by one. Attired mainly in black they look the part-they always were a well-dressed band! Where better to start then than “Tank”. Immediately in front of me a few moshers get the place moving-age seems no barrier to ‘dancing’ tonight! Early favourite “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” is well received and we all sing along. Lesser known numbers like “Outside Tokyo” and “Sweden” are immaculately observed-Baz (Warne’s) vocals I have to say are note perfect. “Hey (Rise of The Robots)” is sandwiched between the two and ensures the lunacy down the front continues-there really is nothing funnier to witness than a middle-aged moshpit! JJB (bass) cuts a fine shape as he seems to slide along the stage to his right in an almost measured and perfected style. He occasionally smiles while swapping vocal duties with Baz. Having not played this LP myself for a while I don’t recognise every song at first. However, “Toiler On The Sea” brings another singalong to this happy crowd.

For those of us of a certain age we would remember this LP on vinyl. With that in mind “Curfew” is the first track from side 2 and is truly excellent. Dave (keys) is in his element as he takes centre stage. The hard-edged ending sounds terrific as they then play “Threatened”. A noticeable absentee tonight is Jet (drums), his stand-in “Jim” however is more than capable of filling his shoes. He hits the skins hard throughout while only looking out on the crowd occasionally. “In The Shadows” sounds as menacing as it did way back in 1978 while “Do You Wanna” just morphs perfectly into the sing-along favourite “Death and Night and Blood (Yukio)” which we loudly join in on. More movement in the crowd suggests we are just getting warmed up for the 2nd half of tonight’s performance. They end the album tracks with “Enough Time” which is bassy and hard-edged. They then waste no time in hitting us with the classics.

The Stranglers
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Where better place to start than with (Get a) Grip (on yourself)-the reaction is huge as more movement ensues. “Walk on By” briefly allows us to catch our breath’s before “Norfolk Coast”. “Always The Sun” sounds as fresh as the day it was released and gets us singing in unison while “Nuclear Device” gets a huge crowd reaction, where the pit goes wild. “5 Minutes” soon follows before the Damned-esque “Relentless” allows us another breather. They end the main set with the controversial “I Feel Like A Wog”, which I suppose is as relevant today as it was back then. It sounds fresh and Baz sings it with real emotion. What better way to end than with “Something Better Change” which is simply excellent.

After a few minutes they return for a 2 song encore. Old favourite “Go, Buddy Go” allows us to go wild again with a good ol’ sing song and they end with “No More Heroes”, a song that has never dated. Tonight it sounds as good as ever, we shouldn’t expect any different. The Stranglers were good value this evening for nearly 2 hours, proving that age is just a number. While these guys still have the energy and the songs to match we will keep returning. The Stranglers-ageless!

Set Lists
The Stranglers
Tank
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
Outside Tokyo
Hey! (Rise of the Robots)
Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front)
Toiler on the Sea
Curfew
Threatened
In the Shadows
Do You Wanna
Death and Night and Blood (Yukio)
Enough Time

(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)
Walk on By (Dionne Warwick cover)
Norfolk Coast
Lost Control
Princess of the Streets
Always the Sun
Freedom Is Insane
A Soldier’s Diary
Nuclear Device (The Wizard of Aus)
5 Minutes
Relentless
I Feel Like a Wog
Something Better Change

Encore
Go Buddy Go
No More Heroes

The Alarm
Kill Kill Kill
Superchannel
In The Poppy Fields
The Drunk and the Disorderly
One Guitar
68 Guns
My Town
The Spirit of ’76
Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke?

Videos


Links
http://www.stranglers.net
http://www.thealarm.com

Review by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures and Videos by Dave “Chinners” Chinery

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