Live Review: The Stranglers @ O2 Academy, Sheffield

Words and photography by Natalie Wood

It may have been The Stranglers second to last gig on the UK part of their tour but they played it has if it was their first.

Mike Marlin kicked off the support for the night. Mike and his band sounded pretty good and in keeping with the sound the audience expected. They even gave EP’s out after their set and engaged with the audience.

Second up were The Popes. A proper Irish folk/punk band with mandolins, a fiddle and a great performance from Paul McGuiness. What more could you ask for? They’re definitely the type of band that had as much fun on stage as the audience did.

And then it was The Stranglers turn to take the stage.

By the time they got on the stage the audience numbers had already tripled from the beginning of the night and more came in throughout the performance. Honestly the majority of the audience must have been long time followers of the band and the rest young people brought by, or influenced by, their parents. When you looked at the crowd nearly everyone had some sort of Stranglers tour t-shirt on and knew all the words to the songs, even songs off the new album Giants. These were dedicated fans.

Unfortunately drummer Jet Black was ill, as he as been for most of the tour, but his replacement Ian Barnard kept it together the way Jet would have done. All the guys are naturals at touring, Baz Warne interacted well with the crowd and the audience was easily pleased with the choice of songs. There wasn’t one person not moving when classic song Hey! (Rise of the Robots) was played.

Both Baz and J.J. Burnel’s singing made the songs come to life and the way they played just proved that they’ll never tire of the songs or their audience. They definitely enjoyed showing off with some awesome guitar solos by Baz and the intricate work on bass by J.J. They even got a round of applause for one of their solos, not many bands get that privilege.

Of course they played Golden Brown and it was clearly a highlight of the night. Everyone hummed along to the melody and sang louder than Baz did. Hearing Dave Greenfield on keyboards through all the songs made the atmosphere perfect and showed how important each member is to the band and how they’ve survived so long.

They played the classics that were expected and then they played a song that they covered back in the 70’s. Their version of Dionne Warwick’s Walk On By has to one of the most unique covers ever created and them playing it live made it even better. There were no similarities to the original except from the lyrics.

A lot of the older audience said this is the closest us young ‘uns will get to a gig from the 70’s and 80’s, and I truly believe them. The music is still brilliant, the band still has the energy needed for touring and the fans still love them. That’s why The Stranglers are still playing sell out tours.

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