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

Sunday 11 January 2015

Talkin' About A Resolution - 100 Club Punk Festival

As ideas go it was a good 'un. First week in January, punters are back at work and feeling the pain of post-Christmas blues. The pubs and clubs are quiet now so what do we want...... a punk festival. A punk festival in one of the most famous music venues in the world, Oxford Street's 100 Club.

Saved recently from closure the 100 Club famously hosted the Punk Festival in September 1976 that stepped the London punk scene up to another gear. Of course I was far too young to see that one and the fact that I was at the second 100 Club Punk Festival 20 tears later (Buzzcocks and Alternative TV) isn't much of a boast! But I did see my first London gig here (Peter & The Test Tube Babies and The Long Tall Texans) in 1985 and watched the brilliant Dayton, Ohio outfit Toxic Reasons whilst standing next to one John Peel!

7th January 2015

I had tickets for two nights, the first being 999. An early start was needed as Arturo Bassick was doing a double stint with both The Lurkers and 999. Sandwiched in between was the somewhat unhinged Ed Tudor Pole.

The Lurkers, now an established three piece, delivered their usual high energy set with all of the expected 'hits' present and correct, 'I'm On Heat', 'Pills', 'Ain't Got A Clue' and the rather uncomfortable 'Just Thirteen'. Arturo informed the audience that original Lurkers drummer, Esso,  had that very day undergone heart surgery and was now in recovery. The song 'Go Sane' was dedicated to him. A highlight was the opening track from the Fried Brains album 'Come And Reminisce (If You Think You're Old Enough)'. The English Ramones? Well I don't know, but always  a guarantee of a good show!

'Ain't Got A Clue' and 'I'm On Heat'
The Lurkers
100 Club London 7th January 2015

Ed Tudor Pole was up next, former front man of Tenpole Tudor, it is fair to say that Mr Tudor Pole is a genuine English eccentric. For one man with a guitar he can make a lot of noise in a vein that I suppose you could call folk-punk. The Pistols references were there, the expected 'Who killed Bambi' as well as a brief 'Friggin' in the Rigging'! But some of the material was more unusual in songs like 'Beryl' and then there was the sublime 'You're Not A Punk'.... early on what I thought was heckling was actually a call for this song.

Excellent stuff!

'Friggin' In The Rigging' and 'Beryl'
Ed Tudor Pole
100 Club London 7th January 2015

'You're Not A Punk'
Fulford Arms, York
So onto tonight's headliners...... 999. I have often posted on 999 being a big fan myself. Always great to see but sadly all too often dismissed as a band who jumped on the punk bandwagon (The Stranglers were similarly accused). However, like The Stranglers, the members of 999 laid the foundation stones for what became the London punk scene of '77. Nick Cash (then known as Keith Lucas) played with Kilburn and The Highroads, whose last gig at the Walthamstow Assembly Rooms on 17th June 1976 also featured The Stranglers and the Sex Pistols on the bill. Drummer Pablo Labritain was an old school friend of one John Mellor and played in a very early incarnation of The Clash.

The band's set has remained pretty consistent for a number of years now and tonight they opened with the usual  'Black Flowers For The Bride' from the fairly obscure 'You, Us, It' album of the early '90's. That the album came and went without a get deal of notice is a real shame since in my opinion 'You, Us, It' is to 999 what 'Norfolk Coast' is to The Stranglers, that is a return to form after several years in the doldrums. The rest of the set is comprised of material from the '77 to '81 period with a couple of numbers from more recent albums, Guy's 'Really Like You' ('Takeover' (1997)) and 'Last Breath' from the 'new' album ('Death In Soho' (2007)). But the backbone of the set is still made up of those early singles tracks, 'Feelin' Alright With The Crew'. 'Emergency' and of course the anthemic 'Homicide'. Crash, bang, wallop and the hour long set comes to the end with the urgent roar of 'I'm Alive', 999's first single on the independent Labritain records.... take that EMI! All in all 999 delivered another evening of amphetamine fueled R&B that left the ears ringing and the pulse racing. Sadly not being in London anymore the offer of a beer with the band after the gig had to be declined in order to get back to Hertfordshire. 

'Hit Me'
100 Club London 7th January 2015

'My Street Stinks'
100 Club London 7th January 2015

8th January 2015

The Gov'nors
100 Club London 8th January 2015

Now, I knew about this one in advance of knowing about the whole Resolution week and the thought of it got me through those first traumatic days back in the office! This time around, Gunta and I arrived a bit later so did not get to see The Duel in the end. So with only a 15 minute wait, Ruts DC took to the stage in front of a keen audience of a reasonable size (such a contrast from the last time they played at the 100 Club at the 'Remembering Joe' gig in December 2012. On that occasion the venue pretty much cleared by the time they came on!). 

For recent dates, vocalist Molara has been absent which inevitably changes the way they play, But I needn't have worried myself overly as these three had everything under control. Standing at the end of the stage (the 100 Club stage is long and thin) gave me an excellent vantage point from where to watch Ruffy doing his stuff. In doing so I have come to the conclusion that he is my favourite drummer to watch (sorry Clem Burke, you have lost you're crown!). I always liked the idea of being a drummer, but a complete absence of a sense of rhythm put paid to that idea (it didn't do me any favours when I tried the bass either!).

The set was delivered with precision with even a bit of PiL's 'Public Image woven in there for good measure. Of course there were the dedications to Foxy and Malcolm, clearly these absent friends are never far away from their thoughts whenever Segs and Ruffy are on stage.

A real highlight of the evening was the introduction of a new song into the set. 'Second Hand Child' is  a haunting song about child abuse (which Ruffy confirmed was indeed written from an anti-perspective!). The song had previously been aired acoustically but had now been worked up to an electric version. Prior to performing the song Segs admitted that this was the part of the gig he was dreading (poor old Segs, he's never one to be overconfident about how the band are perceived! From a songwriter's point of view however I can understand that to launch your latest brainchild out to a virgin audience must be very nerve-wracking, no matter how good your track record may be). So far I have only listened to it a couple of times, but it sounds just fine to me. There is something in Leigh's guitar riff that reminds me of something else, but that something is sitting just outside my conscious mind taunting me*. Dare I say it there's also a hint of The Police's 'Invisible Sun' in there too.

'Second Hand Child'
Ruts DC
100 Club London 8th January 2015

I said to Leigh the previous night that I would love to see the band produce another rock album, perhaps a progression on the 'Animal Now' album...... only not so depressing. 'Second Hand Child' seems to fit that bill very well indeed.

* I think I have The Mob's 'No Doves Fly Here' in mind.

'West One (Shine On Me)'
Ruts DC
100 Club London 8th January 2015

If tonight's performance is a benchmark for the band in 2015, it will be a great year!!

(Thanks to Big Andy for the footage).

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