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

Monday, 6 May 2019

Going Undercover - Tufnell Park Dome 27th April 2019

Jimmy Pursey (Sham 69)
Undercover Festival 27th April 2019
(Photograph Mo Andrews)

A few weeks ago an old college friend of mine contacted me to say that he was due to be in London  (from Dublin) for the weekend of 26th April and were we free to meet up. Moreover, he enquired whether there were any gigs in town on the Saturday night. Well, by chance the Dome in Tufnell Park was hosting the Undercover Festival and the Saturday line up was looking very good indeed boasting Penetration, Chelsea and Sham 69!

My mate Stuart, Gunta and Mo met up in The Astronomer pub in Middlesex Street, Shoreditch. Son, Rudi, joined us and a few pints were sunk as Stuart and I regaled him with student accommodation horror stories, although having seen his digs in Colchester I reckon that he has a fair few of his own!

In the end Rudi departed for home and the remaining three headed for the venue. Once inside the adjacent pub the adults settled in to watch the remaining minutes of the Brighton game whilst the daughter opted to head inside, doubtless to ensure that she would be right at the front, but also to see Menace. Game over we entered the venue just as Penetration were taking to the stage.

Pauline and Robert of Penetration
(Photograph Mo Andrews)

It was great to see Penetration again in such an intimate setting. Penetration always stood out from the punk crowd and its great to see that they are playing new material..... 'Movement' not inertia! It was fitting that they opened with 'Nostalgia' which was duly dedicated to Pete Shelley. At the point in the set where they played their debut single 'Don't Dictate', I was momentarily distracted by the bar. Returning with a pint for Stuart, my ears pricked up to a change in the vocal on the chorus of 'Don't dictate, don't dictate, don't dictate, dictate to me!', that wasn't Pauline. Looking at the stage it was clear that Pauline had offered the mike to someone at the front and it was Mo no less belting out the lines! Point taken Mo, it would be futile if I tried too!

Mo disappeared downstairs to catch The Piranhas at this stage whilst the oldies stuck around for Chelsea. Gene October and James Stevenson gave the occasion a genuine '77 feel. Chelsea were great, but the trouble I had was that the stage was set up in such a way that the barrier was forward of the PA and so the sound where we were was awful, being limited to what was coming through the monitors. Great view, shit sound. Chelsea were well received and a great warm up for Sham.

Gene October of Chelsea
(Photograph Mo Andrews)

Sham 69 took to the stage at about 10pm, Pursey, Parsons and Treganna, three quarters of the classic line up! Pursey opened by shaking his tail feather at the audience dressed like a modern day Fagin!

'I Don't Wanna' excerpt.

The set that followed was just a joy. Opening with 'What Have We Got' a chorus/response number with the simplest of requirements. I think that the band tried out a couple of new songs, 'Tear Gas Eyes' and 'Bastille Cake' but other than that the set was a greatest hits affair that none could have a problem with. Relying heavily on the bands earliest days with 'Ulster Boy', 'I Don't Wanna', and 'George Davis is Innocent', the set was supplemented with all of the expected singles as well as a couple of favourite album tracks such as 'That's Life' as well as the B-Side 'No Entry'. At the end of the gig Mo bagged possibly the biggest set list that I have ever seen (printed on A3). Are Sham 69 the most short-sighted band on the circuit?! Thanks Jim, what a great night out!

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