The Stranglers at the Roundhouse
After four decades, 23 top 40 singles and 17 albums, The Stranglers are still at it. Loud, crude, ugly, consistent and unrelentingly exciting. As ever, the tour bus is taking them across the country – selling out venues – performing their timeless punk rock to crowds of die-hard fans new and old.
Starting out in Guildford in 1974 as the Guildford Stranglers, the band found fame in the underground pub rock scene before becoming one of the pioneers of the punk movement. Utilising their no-compromise, antagonistic attitude, they crafted it into a genre for the indignant masses, forming punk rock. Later in their career, they broke into many different genres – as punk collapsed under its own rage – New Wave, art rock, gothic rock and 80s synth pop to name a few. All of these epochs were alluded to during the band’s set, they covered the hits – Golden Brown, No More Heroes, Peaches – and some more left-field fan favorites such as Tank and Duchess.
Baz Warne, who joined the band in 2000 replacing the original lead guitarist and singer Hugh Cornwell, performed amicably in his own aggressive, intense manner. Dave Greenfield hammered the keys in a frenzy for the whole gig, and Jean-Jacques Burnel performed his energetic, melodic bass that forms the backbone to The Stranglers’ unique sound with poise.
The miracle of the evening was the appearance of the ailing venerable percussionist Jet Black, who appeared halfway through the evening to massive fanfare, replacing the stand-in, Jim Macaulay, keeping up right to the end.
The Roundhouse has a problem with acoustics (strangely being a premier venue) when it comes to punk. The sound comes as a unique block that makes it impossible to grasp the individual instruments or even make out the singing. This ruined the first half of the performance, leaving the second – Jet-Blacked – half to impress with the less punk more melodic sounds. And it did, the second half rocked and the audience reciprocated this by dancing, moshing and generally having a great time.
For forty years now The Stranglers have been a beacon for punk, pop and panache. Filling venues and recording albums, long may they prevail.
Photos: Andrew Collins
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