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 4 May 2013

Acoustic At The Roots And Roses Festival Lessen Lessines, Belgium 1st May 2013

This trip served two purposes for me, one was obviously to see The Stranglers, the other was to show my travelling companion some World War I sites to be found in The Somme region. But more of that later.

I have seen the band in Lessines before, again playing acoustically and it seems that the band have quite an affinity with the place. The event today was the Roots & Roses Festival on this, a May Day public holiday, in Belgium. Two things struck me on arrival, firstly that the rockabilly scene is alive and well in Belgium (the hoardings around the site advertised two or three additional events with similar line ups and secondly, why on earth were the band playing this gig acoustically when the other bands were playing electric sets (Baz cleared this little mystery when he informed us that they had specifically been asked to do the acoustic set).

It seems that we had not taken on board the lessons learnt on our last visit to Lessen Lessines and we arrived some six hours before the band were due to take the stage. There really isn't a great deal to do in Lessines..... but at least it wasn't raining.

If I should die, think only this of me;
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.
Owen Carne in Lessines 1st May 2013
(with apologies to Rupert Brooke)

Having exhausted the opportunities of I-spy to kill time we decided to wander into the centre (where real money could be used to purchase beer - what is this Belgian thing with tokens at venues?!). As we were passing the back stage area, I noticed some familiar figures ambling towards us (well most were ambling but one was hobbling a bit with the aid of a crutch - JJ has recently undergone surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament). A quick chat followed as to what brought us to this remote field and they were off back to their nearby hotel.

The majority of the bands came on and went off without lighting my fire. One band struck as something of a poor man's Cramps.... in keeping with the event but well.... just not very good. The Godfathers did their thing which only left The Jim Jones Review ahead of The Stranglers. I know The Jim Jones Review are making some waves in the UK, but again I didn't really get it.... there were strong elements of Bad News in the mix. Still each to their own.

Owen and I wandered into the backstage area where it was clear that some of the rockabilly set were rather the worse for wear! The talk of the backstage area was of two girls who were getting it together whilst a bloke (presumably the boyfriend of one), who earned the nickname of Dead Elvis, tried to intervene. And that I am sad to reveal was the extent of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll backstage.... a plastic beaker of lager, two would be lesbians getting it on in a portaloo with Belgium's answer to Seasick Steve providing the soundtrack. Hardly excess of Zepplin proportions I'm sure you'll agree.

So to showtime as The Stranglers install themselves on stage and I have to say that their comments about being rather under rehearsed were not borne out in what I heard. I think that it is no mystery that the acoustic set offers less opportunity for the band to vary the set too much, the songs kind of pick themselves as not all translate well into this format. However, I was pleased to see that Midnight Summer Dream had been carried over from the recent UK tour. Jim did a worthy job filling in for Jet, bearing in mind that he was none too familiar with much of this set. I am very happy to report that 'Don't Bring Harry' was in the set (should be brought into the main set I reckon) along with 'English Towns'. What was unfortunate was that a strictly applied curfew cut the set by two tracks ('Sanfte Kuss' and 'Old Codger' if I remember the set list correctly).

Midnight Summer Dream
In The End/English Towns
Don't Bring Harry

With our privileged luminous green wristbands (the proles had yellow) we went back and had a few minutes with the band after the gig in the temporary dressing rooms (which on a normal working day double up as a primary school..... sweet artwork and really diddy toilets!)

Mission accomplished, we headed off into the night through now driving rain in the direction of Lille airport and our hotel for the night.

Thanks as ever to the band, Gary and Louis for their time and generosity.

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