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

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Vive Le Rock Awards O2 Academy Islington London 27th March 2019

I have been a subscriber to this worthy magazine since it first appeared on the newstands, what nine years ago now. Whilst Mojo gave a token nod periodically to a proportion of its readership who retain an interest in alternative forms of music mainly stemming from the late '70's, Vive Le Rock is full on when it comes to each of those left field genres. And the articles are written in such an articulate manner that quite rightly makes the assumption that the audience are not completely green about the subject matter, be it a band or a genre and is therefore able to pitch the writing just right so that even the obsessive fan of a band can learn something new from the features. It is quality material and as you can see I rate it very highly as something you should invest in.... and by the way I am not in their pay!

27th March marked our son Rudi's 21st birthday, so in what better was to celebrate it than to drag him to see a load of 40 year old bands! On arrival in Islington we discovered that a previous preferred eatery close to The Screen On The Green had seemingly recently closed down and so we crossed over to Pizza Express for a food and a few celebratory drinks. Steve Grantley and Kirk Brandon sat opposite.... I wonder where they were headed to?

At the venue, approaching the queue our 17 year old daughter, Ramona (Mo) a young punk acolyte for whose musical taste I am honestly only partially responsible was in punk pig heaven. At three o'clock to her sat Glen Matlock outside a cafe (as she exclaimed his name he declared 'I'm 'avin' me dinner' ...... fair point, even Sex Pistols can get indigestion!) At one o'clock a beaming Rat Scabies approached Animal for a hearty greeting. Poor lass she did not now where to look next.

'I smell a Rat!'
(Mo meets Rat Scabies in Islington)

Within the venue, the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed. This was a celebration of our music with the very people who made it. I get the feeling at gigs these days and certainly on that night that to be doing this in 2019 was nobody's expectation, but what we did was fantastic, so what the hell let's rejoice in it!

The evening's entertainment was opened by a handful of numbers by the 'Vive Le Rockers' house band comprising Ruffy (Ruts DC) on drums, Paul-Ronney Angel (The Urban Voodoo Machine) on guitar and Tom Spencer (The Professionals) also on guitar. Here my apologies go out to the bass player, the keyboard player, the trumpeter and saxophonist, as I do not know their names.

Shortly, Glen Matlock was welcomed to the stage to perform two numbers from his current album, 'Sexy Beast' and the new single' Keep On Pushing'. The third song was the inevitable, but most welcome for all tha,t powerhouse punk anthem, 'Pretty Vacant'. On this his 21st birthday, son Rudi said that he was thrilled to see a Sex Pistol performing live.

With the last chords of 'Vacant' still reverberating in the room it was time for the first award. First up was the Pioneer award for Eddie & The Hot Rods frontman Barrie Masters. He and his band in collusion with a handful of London boozers laid out the blueprint for what became the UK punk scene. As a big name on the so called ‘Pub Rock’ circuit the Rods took their music back to earlier R&B roots, best played in sweaty and smoke filled pubs and in doing so they reinjected excitement and an element of danger back into the live music scene. Sadly, they, along with other bands of their ilk such as Dr Feelgood, were rather victims of their own success as the bands that they had had a hand in coalescing subsequently bulldozed everything that came before them! It was the drummer of one of those bands who made the presentation, no less a figure than Rat Scabies. Mr Masters was chuffed with his award and rather lost for words, although that may have been due to the fact that he was in a pub across the road not 5 minutes before the presentation was due to be made (as a reliable source informed me!).

Barrie performed later on with the house band, The Rods’ cover of Bob Seger’s ‘Get Out Of Denver’ and of course the early punk anthem of ‘Do Anything You Wanna Do’.

Barrie Masters of Eddie & The Hot Rods with his VLR Pioneer Award.

There then followed a really hard part of the procedings. One of the categories for which a presentation is made is in the genres of 'Roots: Ska, Rock 'n' Roll and Blues'. This year the recipient of the award was to have been The Beat and Ranking Roger. Tragically, all in the room had learned only 24 hours previously that Roger had lost his battle to cancer the day before the awards. Neville Staple and his wife Sugary Staple came onto the stage (they were originally due to make the presentation to Roger on this night). Sugary spoke as she explained that Neville, who referred to Roger as his Little Brother, was emotionally too cut up to speak at that point.... 'Even Rude Boys cry' she said. The Selecter's Pauline Black came on to accept the award on behalf of the band and Roger. She said what a loss it was to lose another member of the 2 Tone family, currently embarking on 40th anniversary activities. Gunta was in bits and I have to admit to some tears as the good people under the Academy roof cheered and raised many a plastic pint pot to Roger.

Neville and Sugary Staple with Ranking Roger's Award

Pauline Black accepts Roger's Award

Just as the beer seal blew a gasket the point of the evening that I was most looking forward to occured. To mark the passing late last year of yet another inspirational musician and arguably one of the best British song writers since Lennon and McCartney, fellow Buzzcock and Penetration's Pauline Murray took the stage for a tribute to a man that they both had a long live and recording history with. Before the noise began however, Pauline stepped up the lectern and donned her specs to say a few words about Pete in her soft County Durham accent. 

Pauline Murray spoke fondly of Pete.

With the formality done Steve plugged in for the first song with Pauline taking on the vocal duties. Here I had fully expected to hear 'Nostalgia' covered by Penetration themselves brilliantly on their first album. But what we got was a great version of 'What Do I Get'. No complaints here.

'What Do I Get' at the Vive Le Rock Awards 2019
(O2 Academy Islington 27th March 2019).

Prior to the night there was talk of a mystery 1977 band that were to take to the stage again on the night. Speculation followed as to who it would be. The Adverts I heard (now that would be highly unlikely!) and The Models…….. but no it was neither of those. Glen Matlock was already in the house so all that was required was to add Midge Ure and Rusty Egan into the mix and Hey Presto!..... The Rich Kids! They were supplemented for the night by Neal X filling in for the departed Steve New. So what did we get…. ‘Marching Men’, the anthemic ‘Ghosts of Princes in Towers’ and, well of course, ‘Rich Kids’. Short and sweet but never mind, I can now say that I have seen The Rich Kids!

The Rich Kids

In no particular order, what next? Ah yes, the ‘Maverick’ award and Mo and I, if not Gunta, were thrilled to see Jaz Coleman on the stage to accept the award on behalf of Killing Joke. My first encounter with Killing Joke was relatively late, in the summer of 1984. I had a recording of the first album and that became the background noise for my mock ‘O’ Level revision…..looking back now I can only wonder how it is possible to revise to Killing Joke, but that’s what I did. Then as now, no one sounds like them in whatever direction that their music has taken then and in that they have never shied away from experimentation. That is the reason why at times, some of their output has been inconsistent (in fairness show me a band with such longevity where that is not the case) and that is fine, move on. The fact remains that when it does come together for Killing Joke they are truly remarkable!

Jaz 'The Maverick' Coleman

Mo was very happy to see Eddie and Knox from The Vibrators pick up the award for the best reissue of the year 'Burning Britain: A Story of Independent UK Punk 1980-1983' on which the band appear. Animal of the Anti-Nowhere League handed over the gong.

Eddie and Knox

The appearance of Animal caused some amusement when some wag yelled out 'Noel Edmunds!' There is a similarity although as Animal pointed out 'Noel Edmunds is a fucking dwarf!'.

Animal berates his heckler as host Ed Tudor-Pole looks on.

Ed got his chance close to the conclusion of the evening's entertainment to shout into the mike a bit..... 'Who Killed Bambi' and 'Swords of a Thousand Men'. For these songs, Ruffy was replaced on the drum stool by Nicky Forbes a.k.a. Rocky Rhythm, with whom I had a nice chat afterwards about his days with The Revillos.

'Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men!'

And so we got to the culmination of a fantastic evening. The Stranglers were up for the accolade of the Band of the Year and as such grabbed the honour of closing the night's entertainment. The award was presented to JJ by Segs and Ruffy of Ruts DC. On accepting the award JJ remarked that 'the bad guys, NME and MM, have gone and that just leaves the good guys.... Vive Le Rock'.

Here they are with (Get A) Grip (On Yourself).

(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
Islington O2 Academy 27th March 2019.

On the way out we bumped into Animal. I told him rather drunkenly that for a 13 year old at the time 'We Are The League' was a revelation (that has seen it in my top 20 albums ever since). He posed for a photo with Mo, after which I told him 'Now fucking sling your hook!'.... I think that it was the beer talking!

Mo, Animal and me.

Thanks go to Eugene and the doubtless army of folk for putting the evening together, it was a blast!


  1. Hey Adrian, you forgot Suzi Quatro...

    1. She was never really my thing to be honest.

  2. Thank you for the review of this event I couldn't attend. You're dead on about Vive Le Rock and, in fact about everything else :-)