It was clear walking into Rock City that a twenty-something university student is not The Stranglers’ target demographic. Despite bringing the average age down by twenty years and severely missing a band t-shirt, leather jacket and pint of ale, I made my way up to the main stage to experience some classic 70’s/80’s punk rock.
Dr Feelgood opened the show up, treating the crowd to their usual feel good (goes without saying as it comes with the name), bluesy rock. Frontman Robert Kane did a stellar job hyping up the audience and getting everyone moving. However, I couldn’t help but feel like, lead guitarist Steve Walwyn, stole the show. Upon introduction he was warmly greeted with even his own “Steve-O” chant with the crowd clearly admiring him. Every song was performed with the same intoxicating energy, with the four on stage thriving in what they do best – performing for and entertaining a crowd. A personal highlight for me was one of the band’s earlier songs “Milk and Alcohol”.
Almost as soon as Dr Feelgood left the stage, a now officially warmed up audience became tighter and tighter, and without realising I had moved forward from the middle to practically the front of the crowd. The atmosphere was filled with anticipation and excitement. It was not a long wait until The Stranglers took to the stage. Opening with “Tank”, it became very clear to me that this was not going to be the more chilled out gig that I had perhaps naively expected. Every single body was moving, people were fist punching the air along to the chorus and The Stranglers had set the scene for a night of edgy old school punk rock.
Lead vocalist Baz Warne was fully engaging, cracking jokes but always putting the show first with plenty of energy and angst. Jim Macaulay killed it on drums, not once disappearing into the background and despite being the most recent member to join The Stranglers appeared to have great natural chemistry and rapport with the band. One of the oldest serving members, Dave Greenfield, brought his distinctive keyboard skills, supporting from what I could see three keyboards and at least one beer – of course. He effortlessly created mesmerising keyboard riffs, something truly sensational which I cannot help but feel like we have lost in modern rock music today. Original member since the band’s formation back in 1974, Jean-Jacques Burnel, brought it on bass, having a blast not just with the band up on stage but with the audience also. It was brilliant to see each member of the band working in complete unison together, while each being given their individual times to shine.
Classics such as “Peaches” was obviously a huge hit, and Rock City made full use of their disco ball to light up the room during “Golden Brown”. I was in awe and amazement at just how energetic, tight and lively the gig was, especially considering that these men are no longer spritely twenty-year olds. The band’s enthusiasm was most definitely reciprocated by the crowd. To be perfectly honest, the last thing I expected on a Monday evening was to be moshing with a bunch of middle-aged men. “No More Heroes” closed the show, followed by an enormous applause and ample respect for the band. One thing is for sure, after Monday’s gig, I will forever listen to The Stranglers’ music with a higher level of appreciation and enjoyment.
Photo credit: Chris Zwaagdyk