mon 18/11/2019

The Stranglers, O2 Academy, Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

The Stranglers, O2 Academy, Birmingham

The Stranglers, O2 Academy, Birmingham

The Men in Black sell out in Birmingham and burn the place down

The Stranglers' Jean-Jacques Burnel

Perhaps it’s because today’s economy often seems to reflect the nightmare of the late Seventies, but recent years have seen plenty of the original punks return to public attention with a renewed vigour. Whereas some, like support band The Rezillos, have reformed after a break of several decades, the Stranglers, despite a few line-up and stylistic changes, have never gone away and aren’t shy about playing a set of tunes drawn from their 40-year career.

The Rezillos in fact, were a fine warm-up for the evening with their Banana Splits-like take on punk. Classics like “Somebody’s gonna get their head kicked in” and “Top of the Pops” rubbed shoulders with newer fare like “Sorry about tomorrow” and got plenty of the middle-aged crowd up on their feet and pushing towards the stage, suggesting that there were more than a few who were glad to see them back as a going-concern.

The crowd were soon eating out of his hand again, as the band played classic after classic

Things certainly livened up even more when the headliners took the stage though. Launching into “Longships” and “The Raven” from the 1979 album of the same name, beer was soon getting thrown around, as were a few aging but willing bodies. However, when guitarist and singer Baz Warne announced, “It’s Saturday night. It’s Birmingham. It’s sold out. So, let’s take it by the scruff of the fucking neck” and launched into “(Just get a) Grip (on yourself)”, from 1977’s debut album Rattus Norvegicus, things really went bonkers and stayed that way for most of the night.

The Stranglers may still have original drummer Jet Black in the band, but as a 70-something, a whole gig is a bit of a push for the old geezer and Jim MacAulay beat the skins for most of the show. However, Jet did make a brief appearance for a handful of tunes that included the menacing “Baroque Bordello”, the sublime “Golden Brown” and Lou Reed-ish “Always the Sun”. However, his appearance was short and sweet before he again made way for MacAulay.

After some newer numbers from the band’s catalogue, including a raw take on “Freedom is Insane” from 2012’s Giants album, Warne decided to engage in some football banter about Aston Villa’s win against Sunderland earlier in the day. Someone should have reminded him that there’s more than one decent team in this part of the world, as he seemed surprised to be shouted down by more than a few lively Blues’ fans. It was all in jest though and the crowd were soon eating out of his hand again, as the band played classic after classic, from “Skin Deep” and “Peaches” to “Duchess”.

In fact, such was the crowd’s response that the Stranglers were called back for two encores. Their superb version of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk On By” and the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” had the crowd bouncing around and singing along. However, it was final tune “No More Heroes” that saw crowd-surfing from men who looked like they could easily have grandchildren.

Final tune “No More Heroes” saw crowd-surfing from men who looked like they could easily have grandchildren

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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You've either got it or you ain't and the Stranglers, have definitely got it, your never too old to rock.

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