It’s been 41 years since The Stranglers burst into the world with a determined mission to break all of the rules of punk and inject serious musicality into the genres’ three-chord paradigm.
Controversial, Clash-baiting and (at times) setting themselves right on the edge of decency (both in name and lyrics), The Stranglers had the rest of punk in check-mate within 13 months following the 1-2-3 release of ‘Rattus Norvegicus’, ‘No More Heroes’ and ‘Black and White’.
Back on tour of the UK with their annual Easter jaunt, The Stranglers prove that the key to longevity in punk always focused on musicianship and attitude. Driven, as ever, around Jean-Jacques Burnel’s melodic bass and expanded by Dave Greenfield’s keyboard wizardry, The Stranglers take the anger of punk, mix it with original sounds, and produce gold.
Kicking off with ‘Curfew’ and ‘Get a Grip’, the band starts strong and makes an immediate impact on the crowd. By third track, ’15 Steps’ Burnel, arguably the greatest post-punk bassist, has found top form and grooves in his own unique, mesmerising, style.
Highlight of the evening is the three on the bounce combination of ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Always the Sun’ and ‘Walk on By’, with each perfectly reconstructed and collectively demonstrating the edges of The Stranglers intent to be disruptive, groove-orientated and truthful to their own circumstances.
18 years into the band and still the new boy, former Toy Doll and local lad Baz Warne, provides superb guitar and vocals across the evening. Perhaps most striking about The Stranglers’ live show is the interplay between Warne and Burnel; itself almost a perfect description of the band. Burnel (silent and smiling) provides the focus on musicianship and texture, while Warne (quick-witted, snarling and prone to attacking his guitar) provides the energy and disruption – and nowhere is this better exemplified this evening than on track of the evening, ‘Something Better Change’.
They came to break rules and they did – brilliant.