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

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Hugh Cornwell Islington O2 Academy 19th October 2012

Right, I'll be honest upfront here, it was purely the 'No More Heroes' set that enticed me to this gig. Good luck to Hugh with the new material, but his Jimi Hendrix/Arthur Lee tinged brand of rock is not my thing really. When I heard that bass and keyboards would be interchanged for the 'Heroes' set I was concerned....

The venue on this very damp Friday evening was pretty full, a good turn out for the old boy. For the reasons given above, I won't dwell on the 'Totem and Taboo' set but move on to what I believe a sizable proportion of the crowd were there for.

There were several elements that made this material stand out in worthy contrast to how The Stranglers now play this material. Hugh's vocal was in the main pretty good throughout this set, although I do struggle with the reversal from the original when it comes to the vocal duties... but hey if JJ's not there!? On that point, Steve's vocal on 'Something Better Change' didn't really work for me, but the bar was set high.

What was consistently good, to my ears at least, was the guitar. Hugh was spot on I think for the majority of the set and his guitar parts were true to the original (which is very important for me). As for the keyboard bass, that wasn't such an issue in the end, it was there and it worked as intended. I would like to be able to say the same thing for the keyboards. I wasn't expecting a glorious hammond swirl, but neither was I anticipating gameshow keyboards. So I apologise Hugh, but that element of the show needs some work (I think that comment may qualify me to be in the ranks of the 'Stranglers Police'), but it was my only real beef with this set.

The highlight for me was undoubtedly 'English Towns', a track often consigned to be filler on the album, but I can't agree, for me i has always been one of the best tracks on the album. So, to hear it last night in this context was a real treat (and a rare treat indeed, the only documented Mark I live version being from a 1977 soundcheck in Liverpool).

Hugh Cornwell
'English Towns'
The Arches, Glasgow
5th October 2012

A second highlight was 'Strange Little Girl', my appreciation of which is documented elsewhere on this site. If ever was a song that belongs to Hugh's vocal this is it. Absolutely fantastic to hear him do it.

Hugh Cornwell
'Strange Little Girl'
Carlisle Brickyard
3rd October 2012

So Hugh, I think that you pulled it off quite admirably.

O2 Academy Islington 19th October 2012
(Thanks to Owen Carne for the photo)

Should anyone have any recordings from this tour that they are happy to share please get in touch as I would love to hear the set again without the influence of the white wine/kronenburg cocktails that I was drinking!


  1. Any recording from this tour is welcome, i was at the newcastle gig, and there was a massively impressive rendition of the new totem and taboo album. With or without the stranglers cornwall is still a powerful composer and lyricist. And cherry on top some renditions of no more heroes are stunning, for me it was school mam.

    1. Manchester uni gig over at