Sunday 17th April 2016
There was a lot of love in the room for the Stranglers as they opened their 2016 Australian tour at the Metro Theatre on Sunday. A large contingent of big burly English fellas secured the front row for the gig, and having seen all of their NZ shows recently, emphatically reassured us that we were in for a good time. Not that I would argue with these fine connoisseurs and purveyors of good taste, as I was also interested to see what the Stranglers in 2016 could bring to the table.
These days the Stranglers are a 4 piece band still with 2 original members Jean–Jacques Burnel (bass and vocals) and Dave Greenfield on keyboards.
They are joined by Baz Warne (guitar and vocals) and Jim McCaulay on drums. Baz has been with the Stranglers since 2000 while Jim is a fairly recent addition having joined in 2013 as the touring drummer.
A predominantly highly charged testosterone crowd at the front of the stage only needed the slightest motivation to start furiously leaping around and Jean- Jacques thumping bass lines did the trick. This was going to be an interesting night right at the front of stage and not a place for the fainthearted. As the shirts came off and limbs protruded in every direction I could not help but get swept up in the euphoria of so many paying homage to their favorite band. A gritty aggressive hard core crowd that were here to soak up all that they could.
For the next 2 hours the Stranglers didn’t disappoint, with songs covering many of their eras including “Golden Brown”, “Peaches”, “Walk on By”, “Skin Deep” and “Always the Sun”. Vocal duties were shared between Jean-Jacques Burnel and Baz Warne, with Dave Greenfield and Jim McCaulay clearly enjoying themselves as well.
The Metro is a great place to see a band with its tiered general admission staircase but it does get pretty warm inside. So much so that Baz Warne commented “It’s only three songs in but I’m sweating like Pavarotti in a cake shop”. Jean-Jacques Burnel was feeling the heat as well with sweat streaming down his chest as he thumped the bass.
For me, the Stranglers do it best when the songs are highly charged, take no prisoners, pub rock/punk belters at frenetic pace and “Hanging Around”, “No more heroes” and “Duchess” were definite highlights for me. Jean-Jacques' playing of the bass is also particularly good and the opening bass lines to "Peaches" received a tumultuous reception from the crowd.
For the encore Baz Warne took to the stage with a guitar that had a large feather boa attached to it. After a few expletives explaining why such a guitar was being played it became apparent that Baz Warne is a good sport. As part of a charity realizing young kids dreams and aspirations, Baz had agreed to play this guitar to help raise money for these kids, which was very admirable on his part.
“All day and all of the night” rounded off a great evening and completed the 2nd encore after nearly 2 hours on stage.
The Stranglers in 2016 have still got it and put on a great show. They are playing the other major Australian cities in the week ahead and are well worth checking out if you get the chance.