Aural Sculptors - The Stranglers Live 1976 to the Present

Welcome to Aural Sculptors, a blog aimed at bringing the music of The Stranglers to as wide an audience as possible. Whilst all of the various members of the band that have passed through the ranks since 1974 are accomplished studio musicians, it is on stage where the band have for me had their biggest impact.

As a collector of their live recordings for many years I want to share some of the better quality material with other fans. By selecting the higher quality recordings I hope to present The Stranglers in the best possible light for the benefit of those less familiar with their material than the hardcore fan.

Needless to say, this site will steer well clear of any officially released material. As well as live gigs, I will post demos, radio interviews and anything else that I feel may be of interest.

In addition, occasionally I will post material by other bands, related or otherwise, that mean a lot to me.

Your comments and/or contributions are most welcome. Please email me at

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Specials Ancienne Belgique 28th September 2011

I posted in anticipation of this gig a couple of weeks ago and last week it was upon us. The last night of the European tour and my sixth gig for the reformed Specials.

In a travelling party of four, myself, Gunta, an old friend Andy Peart and his partner Abbie set off from St Pancras on Wednesday morning for the little over 2 hour train journey into Brussels. For those who have never travelled on the Eurostar, it is a very civilised way to get to the continent. Give it a go. At the other end, a short taxi ride took us into the centre of Brussels and to our respective hotels. Our hotel, being functional but most importantly clean, was given the most cursory of inspections before Gunta and I set out to for a wander (via a bar or two).

Meeting our travelling companions for a pre-gig meal, we got to the venue in good time, as we had two unneeded tickets to off-load before going in. Very surprisingly, it proved to be impossible to sell them at all, even though the gig had been sold out for six months or more.

The tour bus, parked right outside the venue provided an obvious photo opportunity, with the lens shared with a life-size Walt of Teflon's making.

Adrian, Gunta & Andy
Ancienne Belgique 28th September 2011

The venue, the Ancienne Belgique, has played host to every band of note, including The Stranglers and is a great mid-size venue, holding I'd say about 2000. Something akin to an intimate Brixton Academy, it's size was our main reason for taking in a European date, as the venues selected for the UK dates are somewhat cavernous. I had no problem in getting upto the barrier in a stage right position nearest to Lynval.

An on schedule start showed no surprises in the set, by all accounts some treats are being held back for the UK. Meaning no offence to fans of the band in Europe, I really do think that the music has perhaps a greater resonance when played in the cities in which they were created and first played in, such is the extent with which those songs are associated with the tough times of the late 70's/early 80's in Britain. Still what is there to complain about with a classic Specials set?!

The band looked tired, but in good spirits throughout the show. I would say that the audience were relatively quiet, but I was not expecting a break in the show when Terry had the lighting engineer train a spot light on a guy, who up in the stalls had spent the previous 20 minutes in a deep sleep! Can you imagine falling asleep during a Specials gig. The man once woken from his slumbers took it well and played up to the jeers of the rest of the crowd.

Only one encore was served up on this occasion, Guns of Navarone and You're Wondering Now and then they bid Europe farewell, possibly for the last ever time. I suspect the anthem that is Ghost Town may make a reappearance in the UK.

One thought stuck in my head from the midway point of the show, when Terry, in anticipation of the homeward bound journey started to sing 'We're all going on the Eurostar tomorrow, Eurostar tomorrow, Eurostar tomorrow....'. We were booked to be on the Eurostar at lunchtime the following day and by my reckoning, with a rudimentary understanding of the lifestyles of a touring band, there was a reasonable chance that we would be heading back on the same train. Time would tell.

It was back to a bar, for another couple of alfresco beers (the evening was very hot, more like a summer in the Med, rather than late September in Northern Europe) and a post-mortem of the show.

Next morning we took our leave of the centre of town and took the train out to the Eurostar terminal. With very little to do other than to settle down to another beer in the spartan surroundings of the bar/cafe until departure time, I was contemplating the awfulness of my passport photo when Gunta exitedly caught my attention from the sandwich queue. Trying to point subtly, she was mouthing 'It's Terry Hall!'. Sure enough there in the queue was our Terry also in search of sustenance. Never particularly shy under such circumstances I bowled over to him in order to say a quick hello and to have my ticket signed. No sooner had I left Terry to his selection and regained my seat that I turned around to see Specials coming into the bar from all angles!

First came Lyn who came over directly and talked very excitedly about the UK dates to come. To see a man so enthused about the prospect of another few weeks on the road was wonderful and I am sure that if they all take to the stage in Wolverhampton next week with even half the energy with which Lyn described the shows, no one will go home disappointed! Set surprises and stunning lighting are to be the order of the day apparently.

Lynval & Adrian
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

Neville came over next and was happy to pose for a couple of photos.

Adrian & Neville
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

Neville, Gunta and Lynval
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

Over on the other side of the bar sat Brad, in conversation with Terry. Conscious of not overstaying my welcome, but at the same time clutching a partially signed ticket with a real possibility to get the 'full set', I wandered over to the table and presented the ticket for signature. Both Brad and Terry were happy to chat and pose, mentioning the previous night's incident with the stoned, sleeping 'fan'.

Brad & Terry Mugging for the Camera!
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

And so onto the platform where I spied Horace settling into his seat. I had met Horace before and one again on this occasion he lived up to his 'Gentleman' moniker.

On the other side of the Channel, Lyn and Horace waved enthusiastically as they gathered for their respective transportation and we headed to the Underground. At this point I saw Roddy, but decided to leave them be this time around.

Obviously, to have met 5 of the 6 original members of the band made a fantastic and completely unexpected finale to a great away trip. A nicer, bunch of blokes you could not hope to meet! Cheers to you all and see you in London.

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