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

Tuesday 1 May 2012

I'm A Wonker, I'm A Wonker..... Utrecht & Leuven April 2012

I left work last Wednesday afternoon to the collective eye-rolling of my colleagues (and boss!) and to shouts of 'Don't drink to much!'. None of the above mentioned people have any understanding of why I would see the same band so many times, let alone on the same tour.... and for a moment, as I struggled with rucksack and sleeping bag down the corridor to the exit, did I. However, a mere 90 minutes later, freshly detrained in West Finchley it all made sense again and 10 minutes from then when our genial host for the evening, Paul Cooklin, thrust the first glass of Pinot Grigio into my hand, it was the only thing that I should be doing!

The plans for an early night (alarms being set for 4.30 am) went awry as six or so hours of informed and not so informed pontification slipped by, washed down with eight bottles of wine. Some of the party subsequently overslept, but the time was made up by skipping the usual morning ablutions! And so to Victoria where our transportation for the next three days was ready and waiting for us. The hour or so journey down to Dover offered the opportunity to catch up on a bit of sleep, especially for me as I have a reputation for being a bit of a Sleeping Beauty...... or at least someone that sleeps a lot, let's put it that way.

At Dover, it was very apparent that it wasn't raining, a rarity for this April in the UK, and so, having purchased breakfast booze, some decided to blow the previous night's cobwebs away with a traditional English Channel gale! At least the damage done to the group's hairdos was minimal!

l to r: Adrian Andrews, Paul Cooklin & Owen Carne
26th April 2012

Safely disembarked on French soil it was back on the coach for the long haul through those Lowlands to reach our destination for the evening, Utrecht. The journey was eased by litre bottles of duty free spirits and so many arrived at the Ibis Hotel pretty loose limbed (drinking sizable quantities of spirits in the early afternoon is never really advisable, even if you have switched over to CET and lost an hour of the day!).

At seven, the hotel bar cleared and we reboarded to take the short excursion into the centre to the Tivoli. Our two drivers (excellent fellows they turned out to be to) dropped us off in a cul-de-sac (how they reversed out of there is still unknown!?) leaving us with an hour and a half to kill before showtime. That meant but one thing.... more alcohol. We found an excellent looking bar and Paul C ordered two bottles of wine and some glasses, but when some more people joined the table we found ourselves with a glass deficit which the ever resourceful Mr C resolved without fuss by reaching behind a nearby unstaffed bar to pick up a glass. This was the last thing he did in that establishment, since much to his and our surprise he was unceremoniously manhandled off the premises by a twat of a gentlemen. This berk went on to accuse him of the most heinous of crimes (in his eyes) which really amounted to nothing, especially when you think that Paul had just passed €30 over his bar. As the accusation that all English are arrogant, in the case of Paul he was mistaking arrogant for .... a bit posh! What a Dutch moron! After this mini-drama, we hastily finished off the same two bottles of wine in another bar (cheeky) then moved off to the gig, moments before the band came on.

Of the gig, I'm sorry to say that it was good, but nothing stands out in my mind as particularly remarkable.... if truth be told nothing stands out in my mind at all from about 9.30 onwards. The same was true for my wife Gunta (who has recently rediscovered her love of this band). The next day she too confessed that much of the evening passed by in a haze of rum, vodka and wines making! Nevertheless, the photographic evidence supports the theory that she had a wail of a time on the night....

Gunta and Jacquie 'harmonising' with Dave
Tivoli, Utrecht 26th April 2012

Gunta loving The Stranglers, Everyone & Everything
Tivoli, Utrecht 26th April 2012

Tivoli, Utrecht 26th April 2012

'Mercury Rising'
Tivoli, Utrecht 26th April 2012
Post gig, the happy trippers dispersed into the streets and bars of a dark Utrecht, but there was no more booze for me as it was my job to make sure that Gunta got home in one piece (both before and after the gig she seemed to want to play host to various refugees from the Dutch metal health system!).

We did pretty well considering the night before to be dressed, fed and watered (mostly watered!) and out of the hotel by 10 am to walk into the centre of town, on what turned out to be a fine spring morning.

'Holland's not just a place to grow tulips'
Utrecht 26th April 2012

Come 2pm (or thereabouts) we were mobile again and heading back to Belgium and the rather uninspiring town of Leuven. If the service that we experienced in Utrecht was aggressive, in Leuven it was just apathetic! It's not that the bar that we went into refused to serve us, they made no attempt to serve us and when pressed to pull a pint (or half litre) they informed us that in fact they had no glasses... once again our fun and reverie was being curtailed due to a paucity of glassware!! In the restaurants, we fared no better, seven of us in an empty pizzeria should have lifted the proprietor's spirits, but to the particular septuagenarian who served us, it was too much trouble to even raise a smile.... here's €141 thanks very much!

l to r: Adrian Andrews, Jacquie Maidman, Gunta Andrews & Paul Bibby

So once more onto the breach.. or should that be into the assembly hall. The Het Depot venue for tonight's show is different to the location of the Het Depot of 2010. I believe that it was indeed a school.

I'd say the capacity was about 700 (difficult to gauge from the from), but it was low ceilinged and hot as a steam room! The heat issues weren't helped by the stage lighting, which being held by a rig that was not far above the band's heads didn't help with visibility either. Tonight we paced ourselves (ably assisted by some of the town's publicans) in order to fully appreciate what we couldn't remember from the night before.

I loved the gig. despite the heat. In many of the smaller venues that the band play on the continent you will find yourself 3 feet away from the band as opposed to 15 feet that is common in the larger UK venues. For me, this was an excellent opportunity, just to watch the band play at such close quarters, especially JJ since I am a failed bass player.

The atmosphere in the gig was great, probably a mixture of enjoyment and relief that this was the last night of a gruelling 40+ date tour. JJ and Baz shared many a laugh throughout the evening, with the bass player encouraging the guitarist to say something (disparaging I suspect) about Leuven during 'Peaches'. Sadly, Baz did not oblige on this occasion.

'Hey! (Rise of the Robots)'
Het Depot, Leuven 2012

'Hey!...' was a highlight as was 'Tank' which again closed the set. In the later, Ian played like Animal at the songs finale... rather impressive.

I raise a Pinot to Wonky IV!

Het Depot, Leuven 2012

A Job Well Done
Het Depot, Leuven 2012

A special thanks to all involved for the videos and photos and a huge amount of gratitude to Owen and Jacquie for the continued efforts that they invest in this band. Lastly, thanks to those that made the trip so thoroughly enjoyable.

Adrian & Gunta x


  1. Great stuff Ade!
    Hope to see you both again soon.

    You must send me your addy so I can send that CD.


  2. Great read, well done Adrian & Gunta, Bazza