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

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Philippshalle Dusseldorf 13th June 1988

1. Intro
2. Always The Sun
3. Spain
4. Uptown
5. Souls
6. Toiler on the Sea
7. North Winds
8. Vietnamerica
9. Strange Little Girl
10. The Raven
11. Peasant in the Big Shitty
12. All Day And All Of The Night
13. Shakin' Like A Leaf
14. Shakin' Like A Leaf (Continued)
15. Big in America
16. Who Wants the World
17. Tank
18. Was it You?
19. Down In The Sewer

This would have been an anniversary gig, but I guess I just didn't get my act together in time. A good quality recording albeit from a different source to Dom Ps.

Then as now, this was in the middle of the European Championships which in '88 was hosted in Germany. At this time and largely as a result of serious crowd trouble, most notably at Heysel Stadium, the reputation of English football fans was in tatters and so it was that we travelled to Dusseldorf to an uncertain reception.

This was one of the last organised tours. Two coaches made the journey, one a skipper and one with an overnight stop. I was on the latter as a night out in a then new city to me was quite appealing.

We gathered in Regent's Park to start the journey. A flag had been prepared for the occasion which adorned the rear windscreen of our coach.

l to r: Steve Tyas, Jim Rand and Raj Lamba
Regent's Park June 1988

For the crossing, the bar was occupied but for financial reasons from a kitty cases of Stella Artois were purchased from Duty Free and good headway was made through them even in this short crossing.

Gunta was also on this trip on the other bus...

Look at that hat, I know it was the '80's but still!!

As I said earlier, the stop over coach did present us with the opportunity to see a bit of the town (bars at least) and we headed in the direction of the Altstadt where the best establishments are located. Now, the reaction of the locals in the bars that we visited was wholly understandable. In the main we were English (and quite loud no doubt) dressed as you would expect, so clearly the owners of the bars we entered were on their guard. Their concern was heightened by the fact that England were due to play The Netherlands in the city two days later.

And so it was that about a dozen of us descended on one particular bar/night club. Entry was gained by successfully explaining that we were not here for the football but for The Stranglers. Our reason for being in the city established, the reception was warm to the extent that the DJ agreed to put on a tape of the band at Reading the previous summer (for which some of the locals joined us as best they could on the small dance floor) and the landlord stood us a round (perhaps as an additional insurance policy against damage to his venue.... not that we would have).

One notable incident occurred later in the evening when seeking a late drink. We gathered outside a bar when an elderly, drunken gentleman was propelled through the door with little ceremony on to the street. Thinking that this was harsh treatment for a man who must have been well advanced into his seventies, we engaged the old boy in conversation as best as our limited school German would allow. When we described where we came from, one of our party (Jim Rand) stated that he was from Staines at which point that man declared that he knew Staines well having been a P.O.W. near to the town. On seeing Staines stated in Jim's passport something clicked in the old man's mind. The man became abusive and as we left him with some abuse of our own, he was last seen standing on the street corner with his right arm raised in salute 'Sieg Heil' -ling for all he was worth. For the time it seems that in his alcohol addled brain he was back in 1938! Thankfully, I am sure that he and most of his compatriots who continued to 'Keep the Faith' have long marched off to the great rally in the sky!

The day of the gig was hot and since we arrived at the venue early, some participated in a game of football nearby, there being very little else to do. I recall that the drivers had taken advantage of the very relaxed German laws on pornography and were viewing their purchases on the coaches video system (rather inconsiderate given that there were quite a few girls on these coaches!). Wanky Bus I !!

I remember The Ramones sweeping into the venue for their soundcheck but I do not recall The Stranglers arrival. As the area around the venue started to fill up with local punters, we were highly amused to be asked for autographs by some young German females who genuinely thought that we were The Stranglers. I know that they do not have their biggest European fanbase in Germany, but was their profile so low that noone had ever seen them!?. That said of course we obliged and duly signed!

With the exception of the Ramones, the remainder of the bill was all English. First up were a kind of psychedelic band, The Seers (from Bristol I think), followed by The Godfathers, who were having some success at around that time. They finished their set with 'Anarchy in The UK'..... described as a 'little English folk song'.

Next up were The Ramones, who to my surprise weren't the headline act (and this was I think one of the problems of the evening). Da Bruddah's did what they did in what must have been one of Dee Dee's last gigs with the band and then they were gone..... as indeed were much of the audience for whom The Ramones were clearly the draw of the night!

And so it was that The Stranglers came on to a much thinned out audience. This lack of interest from the German part of the audience was reflected by the band themselves... but listen to the recording and decide. At any rate, the gig was a short one with the band either refusing of denied an encore. I suspect the former as at the end one of the brass section returned to the stage alone to deliver a rendition of 'The Last Post'.... which has all of the hallmarks of a Stranglers' wind-up.

And that was it.

In the course of the evening's entertainment, a tear gas canister was opened in the crowd which did nothing to improve the atmosphere. With the show clearly over, a few Scottish fans who clearly considered that they had been short-changed by the absence of an encore took it upon themselves to start dismantling the crash-barrier in order to hurl scaffolding parts towards the stage. A good time to return to the coach I thought.

A Cross-channel ferry
June 1988

Perhaps it was a localised weather phenomenon over Dusseldorf that night, but it seemed that an atmosphere of violence hung over the city. Next morning, upon arriving back in London, I bought a paper only to be confronted with front pages showing some of the bars in the Aldstadt on fire after receiving the attentions of England 'fans' as they rampaged through the centre. All this was occurring whist we were south east of the centre at the gig. Given the genuine reception that we had received in the same area 24 hours earlier I felt the shame even more acutely than usual.

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