In the 1970’s people were listening to the likes of Dolly Parton, The Beach Boys, Queen and moreover, The Stranglers. Some of the popular bands have died down naturally, some have gone off radar and then tried (with varied success) to do a comeback tour, some of the bands popular in the 1970’s are now simply unheard of to the impassive chart-lover. There is, however, something special about the now 4-piece punk rock band that have just made it to their fortieth year in the music business.
I had the pleasure of joining in the celebrations of The Stranglers’ fortieth anniversary at Leeds o2 Academy. And they killed it. There is certainly nothing aged about this band, the now-front man Baz Warne delivered each song with such enjoyment and energy that the audience could only follow suit. Nonetheless, that certain edge associated with punk rock bands was maintained by mean snarls and by Warne intimidatingly pointing out audience members who weren’t quite paying him enough attention. Bassist, and one of two remaining original band members who played tonight, Jean-Jacques Burnel maintained cool throughout the gig, until he decided to play the last song topless and no one really knew what to think. He’s sixty-two, but he is also a rock star, so let him do what he wants.
The stage itself was edgy and exciting, four big screens played throughout images of fans, video clips, and even a flash of a ladies bottom cheeks at the end of ‘Peaches’ just in case people were still confused about what the song was really about. The flashing lights and flashy screens almost made you forget the crammed room was mostly populated by men and women older than my parents.
The almost non-stop two-hour long gig took some stamina from band members and the audience alike but the thirty song set list was compiled of hit after hit. Their forty years has seen The Stranglers produce a massive 17 albums, and the night saw them play a range of songs across them. For most fans song highlights of the night definitely came from the earlier albums such as ‘Golden Brown’, ‘No More Heroes’ and ‘Nice ‘N’ Sleazy’, however I think it was felt by the band that their more recent work had to be proven. The Stranglers are special because they never died down. They are still going strong. Let’s see what the next forty years bring.