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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

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


Whats on in Brighton today

Whilst under lockdown two Brighton-based footballers have used their permitted daily exercise allowance to raise over seven thousand pounds for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS charitable funds because they want to show gratitude for the NHS workers.

At nineteen years old, Icelandic singer-songwriter Axel Flóvent moved into his first apartment in Amsterdam and “felt so isolated. I was supposed to be in a music mecca, but I never left the apartment.” 

With the world now in isolation, we need to ensure those who are already isolated, lonely, and vulnerable are not forgotten, nor are they allowed to languish in the difficult weeks ahead.  
Credit Laura Meek

After the darkened soul surrealism of their debut single Dripn Angel, Scottish trio Check Masses explore the duality of the protest song and the love ballad on their follow-up Lonesome Little Paradise, a left-field 'roots and culture' freedom chant.

Later this year in Brighton, renowned artist Gary Hodges will host an exclusive exhibition and auction of his embellished wildlife prints to raise vital funds for international wildlife charity Born Free.

One of Wales's biggest trad-folk bands will, ahead of a rearranged date in Sussex, premier their new album from one of the world's smallest stages... the front room of a semi in Cwmbran.
Credit Phoebe Fox

We increasingly hear from musicians that music should be an escape these days - that there's enough suffering in the world, enough misery on the news, without writings songs about it too. New album A Billion Heartbeats by Mystery Jets makes all that sound like a bit of a cop-out. 

"We're from the days when a number 14 bus and a supermarket trolley got us around." Soul II Soul mainman Jazzie B remembers the lengths he and a school friend used to go to play dances with their first sound system when they were just thirteen years old.

Fast becoming a master of the avant-garde, dark-pop sound she's become synonymous with, Belgian songwriter Blanche returns next month with her new album Empire.

“This is, in a lot of ways, is the first lyrically uplifting record we've made,” Larkin Poe's Megan Lovell says. “People can go through terrible things. People can weather immeasurable sorrow and hard times, and yet we can still come out on the other side, pull ourselves together, and thrive. This record reflects some of the joy and positivity that we ourselves feel and appreciate.”
Credit Steve Gullick

Best known as the lead singer and co-writer of UK band Savages (whose first gig was as support to British Sea Power in Brighton), Jehnny Beth has spent the band's down time recording her solo album, To Love Is To Live.

Wendy James, one-time fearless front woman of chart-topping alt-rockers Transvision Vamp,  returns with her new album Queen High Straight, and a show at Concorde 2, Brighton, in September. 
Credit Daniel Brereton

For the last two years The Lovely Eggs have sat back and watched England and the rest of the planet slowly eat itself.

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