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, 17 November 2012

My Stranglers

Here's some recollections from Dean of seeing the band in the late '70's through to late '80s. Thanks for taking the time Dean.

I’d first got into the stranglers during 1978. My friend Ian had the first 3 albums on cassette. And over the period of that year I must have kept Black and White for most of it.

I’d heard the singles from 77 and was, up to then just interested in them. It took a while for me to get my head around a whole albums worth of material. Rattus being the most immediate, and B+W being the one I really liked. Especially Toiler.

My first Stranglers gig was in Cardiff Top Rank 31st October 1979. Raven Tour. I’d been unsuccessful in my attempt to get a 3D cover for the album. (this took some time, I had to wait for E-bay)

This was going to be my 3rd ever gig. The previous two being the boomtown rats in 78 and the previous day 30th Oct 79.

The Rats gig was and still is one of my all time favourite gigs. Just an exciting, hot and sweaty pogoathon. To see the Stranglers the next day was a dream come true. The Skids were to play in Cardiff the day after the Stranglers, but my 14 year old pocket money could only stretch so far.

I can’t remember much about the Stranglers gig. Apart from JJ, Hugh and Jet jumping into the crowd as they played the start to the Raven to sort out a punter who to be fair to the band, had been given prior warning, but continued to spit at the band.

Much to my disappointment they didn’t continue with the raven. Or play heroes, or Something better change, or Peaches! WTF?

I have no idea who the support act was that night. I do remember buying a programme and a Stranglers Patch, which is still on my denim jacket to this day.

I, like most fans I suspect, loved the Raven album, so when the Gospel album was released, I didn’t get it at all at first.

My second Stranglers gig was 09 Feb 1981 in the Bristol Locarno. This was a small club based in a concrete complex which looked much like a multi storey car park, and also housed the local Ice Rink. They had played, in 1980 in the Colston Hall, just round the corner from the Locarno, but for some reason I didn’t go. Getting tickets for gigs in other cities has become so much easier since the internet.

On this occasion, we (Ian and I) had conned a mate to take us to the gig and while we were there, wait for us in the Ice Rink.

I remember not knowing many of the songs off the Gospel album as it hadn’t been released by then. (Obviously) But like all the gigs up to 86, they were very hot, intense affairs.

There can’t be many bands who release and tour two albums in the same year. This the Stranglers did in 81. The La Folie tour coming to the now long gone, Sophia Gardens in Nov. A horrid barn like place, where the sound would bounce off the back wall. But after the roof collapsed in the winter of 82 Cardiff was without a reasonably sized venue until St Davids Hall was built. A long wait.

I have no recollection of Taxi girl but I do remember Mr Sprats. I think they were the first band I ever saw booed off. We would see them again at the end of the Stranglers set making up the ‘La Folie’ letters. What was that all about?

This gig marked my first attempt to write down the setlist from what I could remember. Something I try to do up to this day.

It took me a long time to get into La Folie. Even now I only really listen to the first side. Pin Up? Really?

I remember being disgusted that they didn’t release Tramp after GB. In what universe is it a good idea to release a song sung in French about a man who eats his girlfriend? If ever an example of drugs being bad for you was needed, here it is. One of many bad decisions.

In Feb of 82 we were back in Bristol again. This time without a ticket. We queued up while all the ticket holders went in. Ian had managed to buy a ticket from a guy who wasn’t old enough to get in. I had to wait until almost 9 before I got in. I was the last one let in! The band just started to play Sewer as I walked in. As far as I’m aware, the set is much the same as the first leg.

I saw them 3 times in 83. Cardiff and Nottingham on the Feline tour, and the Reading Festival.

Cardiff was notable for it was the first time I’d seen them on my own. Also during the gig Hugh asked the crowd to entertain him. But just shouting held no interest for him. He did make a mess of Never say goodbye. And after a couple of failed attempts gave up. I shouted that they should play peaches as it was easier. I got a stern look for my trouble. Although they did play Tank later on instead.

I really liked the bit between EF and MSD where JJ would punch his bass. Just so cool!

This gig also was the latest finish to a concert apart from G n R. Way past midnight. When I phoned my mum to come and pick me up, my dad said she’s in bed. Make your own way home. Charming!

Ian was in college in Newark at this time so he got me a ticket for Nottingham. The first time I’d seen them in a seated venue. Not ideal for the pogoing. But at least Hugh got NSG right.

Who can forget Nic Malham. Had to admire his bottle. Just him and a backing tape. Still crap though.

'No 50 pence pieces for Nik.... poor old bugger'
Nik Malham 'entertains' the Stranglers horde in 1983

Reading was a dream line up for me. By this time I was well into heavy metal and prog so the bill suited me fine. Take a bow Big Country, Marillion, and the final performance in the UK of Thin Lizzy!

An amazing 3 days. Just the icing on the cake when our car wouldn’t start on the Monday morning, and we had to call my mates parents to come and get us. His mum was so pissed that I would drag her son (right! Drag) to such a place. It wasn’t looking its best after the festival finished mind.

Have to mention one thing. After Lizzy finished we were on our way back to the tent. For some reason Im barefoot, and I cut my foot on a can. I hobble to our tent where the first aiders were waiting! How did they know where to go? I don’t know. Uncanny.

By the next time I see the Stranglers Ive seen some of the heavy metal eras best bands and memorable gigs. Maiden, Saxon, Dio, Rainbow, ACDC, Quo.. the list goes on. A golden era.

When Aural Sculpture comes out and they have a brass section on it, it kinda goes against the grain somewhat. But I have to say the band in Shepton Mallet was one of my favourite strangler gigs.

We did the ‘Chicken’ and pogoed all though the gig, even to the slower ones and they finished with Toiler. Fabulous! The smell of cow shit doesn’t and cannot dampen my enthusiasm.

We also go and see them the next night in Bournemouth. Talk about OAP land. They do almost the same set but play the Raven instead of Toiler, but it isn’t as good as the previous night.

The next gig is on the Dreamtime tour in Gloucester Leisure centre. And hands down this is the worst time I’ve seen them. Everything that that I loved about them is missing. The aggression, intensity just isn’t there. I dunno, is it me?

I have discovered a band from the USA called Metallica, and they seem to take up most of my listening around this time. As well as a, well, to call it a gig wouldn’t do it justice. More a riot when Metallica play Cardiff with Anthrax supporting. This is more like it. The speed, aggression that Ive been looking for.

I do not see the Stranglers for 7 years. I see them with Paul only twice. It’s just not the same.

The next time I go is in 2006.

They are on my doorstep again and I know they are a four piece again. And it’s a revelation.

They have the old swagger, the old attitude. The old sound. I like the new CD suite sixteen. And I’ve been back every tour since. I have my ticket for next year as well.

So memories from back in the day? Heat, intimidation, aggression, JJ on one leg and karate kicks and so cool,

Hugh seeming uninterested, but witty, Jet –don’t make eye contact. Dave, well it’s Dave innit?

Waiting forever for an encore. Well it seemed like it.

Taking years to find out it was ‘Bruce and Sheila’ in Nuclear Device.

I remember going out in Cardiff one night . We got talking to some blokes. They asked us what kind of music we were into, we said The Stranglers. Oh, Says one, I used to like the Stranglers, but now I like George Benson!

George Benson is now officially music for retired Stranglers fans! Makes me smile every time I think of it.

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