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 adrianandrews1@sky.com.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Driving Through The Lowlands.... The European Acoustic Tour 2011

CC Rene Magritte, Lessines, Belgium
9th April 2011

Come Spring 2011 and there's something amiss in the Andrews' household. It dawns on me that there is a gap in the kitchen calendar.... no Wonky Bus outing this year. This cannot be , an alternative must be sought!

Luckily, a fix was at hand as following a successful acoustic outing in Holland and Belgium in 2007, the band decided to repeat the experience with further dates in the same countries in April.

Logistical email traffic ensued and touring partners were canvassed, overdrafts were checked, permissions sought, some wavered, some fell at the first, such that in the end the party consisted of myself, Owen Carne, Barry Cridland and Paul Cooklin. Barry valiantly offered to be the sole driver when in mainland Europe, perhaps a wise decision given that I do not drive, Paul would probably be over the limit and despite Owen's excellent capabilities as a driver, Barry does have a lovely car and he may have been reluctant to pass the keys on!

A plan was in place so that Paul and I stayed with Owen on the night before in order to get an early start the following morning to get to Ashford for the rendevue with Barry. That was the plan, but for me at least it went awry very early on as I was due to fly back to London that night from Prague. In the event, the plane was delayed for 6 hours, which meant that I reached Owen's at 2 am ahead of the 5 am alarm call! The only upside on the night was that I found myself to be on the same flight as Pete Shelley and we discussed all things Buzzcocks for 45 minutes or so to kill time in the terminal.

The journey to France was uneventful (I assume that Paul and I entered international waters with a glass in our hands, but that is strictly in accordance with protocol!).

The first venue that we headed to was OC De Djoelen in at place called Oud-Turnout and our journey certainly became rather more arduous. Now, the last time I said something about Belgium I got pulled up for it a and was offered a view of an alternative side to Leuven, but in the years that I have been travelling in Northern Europe, I would stand by my view that the surfaces on many Belgian roads leave a lot to be desired. It is not an anti-Belgian comment (incidentally in the UK our roads are shot to pieces at a result of a couple of harsh winters), but poor roads threw our schedule by many hours on this first day.

Coming off a slip road to join another section of motorway, there was a big bang... a blow-out no less... but fortunately we were on the inside lane, so Barry was able to bring the car onto the hard shoulder quickly for remedial action. Only when out of the car and standing in the hard shoulder is it really apparent just how fast 80 mph is, especially when lorries are bearing down at you at that speed!


With a temporary tyre in place we 'sped off' at a gentle 50 mph in search of a proper replacement. Barry's tyres are not run of the mill and consequently it felt like we called in at every garage in Flanders and half of those in Holland before we found the one. Whilst the tyre was fitted Paul and I loitered on street corners drinking Pinot Grigiot from paper cups... such style!

On three wheels.... somewhere in Flanders
April 2011

When we eventually arrived in Oud-Turnout, a new problem presented itself.... try as we might we could not locate our accommodation for the night. After traversing every road in this very small town we succeded. We were to spend the night in what I can only assume was some kind of campus or Christian retreat! That said the kind of apartment that we had was clean and served it's purpose admirably.

We arrived at a full venue not long before the main event.



What was noticeable was that the band (at least JJ and Baz) were very loose-limbed! Not that it showed in their performance.... but then again I'd been on the wine all day so who was I to tell! The set was good and we enjoyed the experience (this was my first time of seeing the band play acoustically and I can away with my scepticism overcome - it was different but only in the sense that it was another facet of the same band).

JJ
OC DE Djoelen, Turnout
7th April 2011
'Princess of the Streets'
OC DE Djoelen, Turnout
7th April 2011
A suppressed disappointment was that 'Don't Bring Harry' did not appear in the set, it had been dropped after featuring the night before.


Having established that the post-gig amenities at our chosed accommodation were rather lacking, we had the notion to walk the 'short distance' to the bands hotel for a drink. We knew that we were heading in the right direction when the band's mini-bus passed us a mile or two down the road and the same loose-limbed bass played shouted his 'encouragement' through the window. Thanks JJ.

We continued to walk, occasionally cross-examining late night locals as to the best/only place to find a drink at that time of night. As usually happens, some locals took us into their care and brought us to their local.... I think that they too had been at the gig. Hunger gnawed, but sadly at that time the menu was confined to croque-monsieur so the two non-meat eaters in the party went without.... not that either of us were going to wither away as a result!

Settled up in the morning, we prepared for the journey into Holland and the small town of Zaandam, to the immediate north of Amsterdam. Arrived safely and checked into the Ibis Hotel we took a cab to the venue.

Cafe De Kade
Zaandam

Customary drinks preceded the evening's performance and for this one we were at the front unusually on Baz's side of the stage. Another cracking gig, marred only by I misunderstanding with Baz. At some point in the proceedings reference was made to the band's wine consumption at the previous nights gig in Turnout. At this point, I lent over to Owen and said something about them being pissed a the gig. Somehow, Baz mis(lip)read this and said that if I was going to call him a wanker that I'd better do it to to his face!? This was rather perplexing. Indeed there are many fans amongst us who have expressed something similar concerning Baz, but I have never been one of them (I have said it on many occasions that the 'Hugh's better Hugh's best' debate lost it's flavour in about 1992!). Anyway I digress.

Baz
Cafe De Kade, Zaandam
8th April 2011

'Super Dave'
Cafe De Kade, Zaandam
8th April 2011

Jet
Cafe De Kade, Zaandam
8th April 2011

'Old Codger'
Cafe De Kade, Zaandam
8th April 2011
Here's is the gig.

https://rapidshare.com/files/795728717/Zaandem_8th_April_2011.zip

01. Instead Of This
02. Long Black Veil
03. Dutch Moon
04. European Female
05. Princess Of The Streets
06. Strange Little Girl
07. Always The Sun
08. In The End
09. English Towns
10. Southern Mountains
11. Golden Brown

01. Spectre Of Love
02. North Winds
03. Peaches
04. Cruel Garden
05. All Day And All Of The Night
06. No More Heroes
07. I Hate You
08. Old Codger
09. Sanfte Kuss
10. Encore Break
11. Skin Deep
12. Walk On By

 PDF artwork is included in the download folder.


Post gig, it was a short train journey into the centre of Amsterdam where we knew entertainment could be had (of a non-sexual nature!). That said, we did venture towards the red-light district where we found a late-night pizzeria. This was in a narrow alleyway, directly opposite a sex shop and so it was that I eat my meal in full gaze of a large poster of a young lady with a cock up her bum! Such is the nature of that part of town I suppose and it did make a change from the usual pizzeria decor of gondolas and sun-kissed piazzas!

 So that was the Dutch leg done and the following morning saw us head back into Belgium for the last one for us on this trip.... Lessines. We debated at we drove through the countryside whether to stop of somewhere else* or to continue on through to Lessine itself for food and drink. We opted for the latter and I think the consensus amongst us that this was a mistake.

Known as the birthplace of Rene Magritte (this was indeed the name of tonight's venue), it was rather smaller than we had bargained for. Still the sun was shining as we parked up and started to wander. In the town square, a few recognisable faces were to be seen and they had already clearly been there for some time as under the combined influences of alcohol and April sunshine they were metamorphosing into lobsters! Leaving the square, we stumbled on a Spring fete/festival, that much to our delight featured Lessine's answer to Johnny Halliday up on a makeshift stage.


This was the most surreal gig that I have seen the band play. The venue is split into two areas, a main hall (where bizarrely a basket ball game was in progress at the same time) and a smaller hall where the band were to play. This space was smaller that for the other gigs and even when Polyphonic Size were on room inside was very limited. It was only set to get worse as many people were milling outside where the bar and barbecue (?!) were located.

Come show time, there was no dressing room to speak of so the band were positioned behind a curtain at the back of the venue, which after passing through meant a very tight squeeze past us in a slow procession to the stage. Gig was good though... but still they didn't bring 'Harry'. What we did get in the last three sets was an acoustic version of 'No More Heroes', which I'm not sure fits such a set.... but see what you think.

CC Rene Magritte, Lessines, Belgium
9th April 2011

'English Towns'
CC Rene Magritte, Lessines, Belgium
9th April 2011
https://rapidshare.com/files/2634266072/Lessines_9th_April_2011.zip

01. Instead Of This
02. Long Black Veil
03. Dutch Moon
04. European Female
05. Princess Of The Streets
06. Strange Little Girl
07. Always The Sun
08. In The End
09. English Towns
10. Southern Mountains
11. Golden Brown
12. Spectre Of Love
13. Northwinds

01. Peaches
02. Cruel Garden
03. All Day And All Of The Night
04. No More Heroes
05. I Hate You
06. Old Codger
07. Sanfte Kuss
08. Skin Deep
09. Walk On By

Full artwork is here:
Front
Back

And so as the band left the stage we made our back towards Calais and home.

In summary, it was very different but very enjoyable for that. If the band are keen to play gigs between main tours and the acoustic option is is easiest logistically then I am all for it! What was consistent was the banter, camaraderie and Pinot Grigiot and I don't think that we'll ever lose that on these outings!


* We did make a diversion as we passed through that area of Belgium, the name of which is burned into the British psyche, Passchendaele. My travelling companions had not previously seen the jaw-dropping spectacle of Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, the largest British Military Cemetery in the world and final resting place for 12,000 soldiers, both named and unnamed. The mood of the party changed as we surveyed the ordered rows of identical Portland stone headstones and tried to rationalise the enormity of what had happened across this area in the three major battles that traversed this area in 1917 (not to mention bitter fighting around Ypres since 1915).

It is truly remarkable and quite right that these cemeteries are maintained with the such diligence nearly 100 years on from the bloodshed. It is also heartening to see that schools are heavily involved with these places and in teaching children about what did happen in their now great-great grandfathers time. I think is extremely important today. My son is in fact travelling to Passendale and The Somme this summer on just such a school trip.... I plan to bore him senseless on the subject in the next couple of months!!


1 comment:

  1. thanks for the gigs excellent stuff fantastic blog nice on adrian

    simonr

    ReplyDelete