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Saturday 08 March 2014

Review: The Stranglers @ Brighton Dome 6th March 2014

Some established bands settle on a five night run in a major city, whereas those notorious rule breakers, The Stranglers, have, so far, gone for the risky business option of a five-year consecutive run of gigs in Brighton.


Pics Courtesy Of Andrew Sturmey

This could have led to a series of diminishing returns, but their most recent one-night stopover at Brighton Dome (6th March 2014), was a sell-out as the four-piece (with only two original members performing) celebrated forty-years in the business with a two-hour show .. one geared more to the obsessives than their fair weather friends.

Having witnessed all five of their annual shindigs, from their blistering 2010 hits heavy set to the more considered and eclectic present one, I conclude that last Thursday was a performance high, and should by rights have been their Brighton swansong.

Original drummer - and still sometimes performer - Jet Black continues to fall victim to the ravishes of old age and a life well lived..

Jet was recently quoted as saying: "I'll carry on until I'm incapable of doing it. 

"I am going to have to stop one day, but I expect the band will carry on." 

However, bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel added: "When he can [no] longer contribute – and I don't think that's long – then there will be no more Stranglers." 

Burnel remarked that Black was "on oxygen" even after drumming on slower numbers like Golden Brown.


Hugh Cornwell, whose writing prowess is forever on show in current Stranglers setlists (though he departed almost a quarter-of-a-century ago) is a constant blip in proceedings. 

The band's occasional gig attendees find it hard to accept the concept of the band being 'The Stranglers' without him.

But his current 'replacement' is a natural Strangler. Baz Warne has been at the microphone for eight years (and part of the set-up for six more) and has become accepted among the faithful.

Baz and Burnel not only compliment each others' strengths on stage, but clearly the newest member has relit a fire in his counterpart.

Burnel once again prowls the stage, engages with audience members and takes on his rightful share of singing duties.

In fact on Thursday's evidence, Burnel has never sounded better. 

From the 'punkier' numbers London Lady, Summat Outanowt, 5 Minutes and  Was it You? - thorugh to the more reflective numbers, North Winds, Never To Look Back, Thrown Away and  newie Freedom Is Insane – Burnel is a Tour de Force.

Burnel, who has been with the Stranglers since their inception in 1974, is not famous for his vocals but that of his distinctive bass guitar sound and melodic basslines. 


Those attributes were also much on show at Brighton Dome. He now effortlessly fires off his distinctive growling basslines - to the likes of Peaches, Nice 'N' Sleazy and No More Heroes  - with a casual aplomb that is ninety-nine parts pure-talent and one-part arrogance.

Keyboard player Dave Greenfield joined The Stranglers during the first year of their existence. 

A true eccentric and much loved member, Greenfield was responsible for a seemingly never ending number of draw-dropping keyboard runs, as well as contributing one of the strongest vocals of the night on Peasant In The Big Shitty.

In Jet Black's absence Jim MacAulay is filling the drum stool, with his comparative youth bringing a new found drive to their on-going musical adventures.

Two men down, forty-years into the game and riding yet another peak. The Stranglers should probably call it a day ..  but then again ……..


by: Mike Cobley




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