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 15 December 2019

A Busy Year for The Stranglers.... a Brief Run Through 2019

Last gig of the year
The Fuzz Club Athens 13th December 2019

With the exception of 1976, 2019 must have been one of the busiest yet for The Stranglers. The dates just kept going up on line relentlessly. A UK tour, loads of summer festivals, Japan.... all topped off by a punishing European tour to mark the end of the year. This was gigging on a 'Feline' scale!

The year started with a real treat that saw the band reunited with Jet Black for an unveiling of a plaque in honour of the band and the contribution that The Star Inn in Guildford has made to popular music over a staggering 80 years. Lucky punters could not believe their good fortune to have been there, to see JJ and Baz play on the very same stage that first showed off The Stranglers to a small world. And what's more there was good food and...... a free bar! There was no better way on a cold Thursday to sweep away, albeit briefly, the January blues.

The Star, Guildford
31st January 2019

The unveiling actually served two purposes, as already mentioned, it was an honour to be conferred on a band who are so very much connected to the Guildford area, for good and bad! However, and more importantly, it was a move engineered to highlight the plight of the venue which was at that time under threat of closure on the grounds of noise. Happily later in the year it was widely reported that the 'Save Our Star' campaign had been successful and the pub continues to operate as a music venue supporting local talent.

More information can be found here.
The 'gig' can be found here.

The tour was next, a railway themed 'Back On The Tracks' was the offering for March. With its dystopian stage set the gigs were rather unusual in that across the dates of the tour there appeared no less than four new songs, all of them unreleased, 'Payday', 'Last Man On The Moon', 'This Song Will Get Me Over You' and 'Water' (OK, newish). As to which of them appear on an official release we will just have to wait and see.

For those interested so far, three of the March dates have been posted on the site:


As the end of the tour approached the band diverted back to London for another special celebratory appearance. This time it was to be at the O2 Academy in Islington where they were to be presented with 'Vive Le Rocks' prestigious 'Band of the Year' award. To mark this the band rounded off the awards event with a short seven song set..... but nevertheless it was great to see the band again in a small, intimate venue, the kind you only generally get to see when the band play overseas.

As well as a great celebration of punk rock and alternative music the event was also highly poignant as some four months earlier, one of punk's finest wordsmiths Pete Shelley, had succumbed to a heart attack and two weeks prior to the Awards, Ranking Roger of The Beat lost his fight against cancer. Both men were remembered in moving tributes by their musical peers, Steve Diggle, Pauline Murray, Neville Staple and Pauline Black. To heap yet more meaning on to the event, a 'Lifetime Achievement' award was conferred upon the tireless Eddie and the Hotrods frontman, Barrie Masters, who sadly left us too later in the year after playing a farewell 'Done Everything We Wanna Do' show in the company of Hotrods past and present!

An earlier post on the evening can be located here.

As Spring changed into Summer outdoor gigs became the order of the day (some more bizarre than others! 'Pass me my mallet, there's a good chap!'). I went to another 'special' gig in Wales. Caerphilly castle was the venue no less..... Ruts DC and The Stranglers..... two slices of genuine London punk rock belted out in a bona fide 13th Century castle...... which was always intended to keep the English out!

David surveys the defences from behind his keyboard stronghold

Ruts DC performed a fantastic 'The Crack' set on the evening before taking to the ramparts to the left of the stage to watch The Stranglers.

'Jah War' by Ruts DC
Caerphilly Castle 7th July 2019

Such a special venue for a gig!

The announcement of a series of gigs in Japan was the only provocation that many of the fans needed to fulfill lifelong ambitions to see the band in a country that has long been a particular interest to some, if not all of the band.

The gigs I hear were a blast in intimate venues..... a once in a life time for some of the Familyinblack for sure.

Finally, a little closer to home but at the same time a world away from the O2 Academy hangers of the UK, Wonky Bus 7 happened. Now expanded to three gigs over a four day excursion, this trip would see 75 or so intrepid and mostly inebriated travelers  cross the east to west length of France to see the band in Brittany and Normandy.

 As mentioned previously, with the exception of gigs in Paris, the European dates are great in that they offer a chance to see the band in both unusual locations and in much smaller capacity venues. As such the presence of a large number of lubricated Brits is always very obvious, and I am glad to report, especially in these days, most welcomed by the local audience contingents.

In keeping with all previous trips, a special tour shirt was commissioned to mark the 40th anniversary of JJ's groundbreaking eletronic/punk crossover album 'Euroman Cometh'. Any possible associations with anything else occurring at the time were entirely coincidental.

The first gig of the Wonky Bus 7 trio can be found here.

Having lost all connection with space and time on this first date, for the second in Penmarch I tried to keep something more of a clearer head.... which was Gunta's chance to go off the rails!

'Wish You Were Here, With Love From Ruth and Gunta xxx'
Cap Caval, Penmarch 23rd November 2019

The second gig of the trio was located off the beaten track and the venue was heaving. What is more the bar was behind the auditorium where the only space was available..... it only made sense to make it our own!

For the final day, the bus transported a wearying gaggle of gig-goers into the Herouville St. Clair district of Caen for the final evening of reverie.

No trip to Caen would be rightfully completed without a trip to one of the D-Day landing beaches and in this respect, our brilliant drivers diverted via Arromanches (an Allied landing location on Gold Beach) for a brief stop. This was for many of the travelers their first opportunity to see where in some cases their relatives had landed. It made for a poignant and serious interlude into the weekends events in this the 75th anniversary of the landings.

Beyond France the band, linked up once again with Ruts DC for more gigs, as the assault on Europe drew to a close.

All told, a hectic year for the band and fans! 

2020 is looking as though it may set a similar pace with an Australian tour already booked along with other prestige European dates. Here's to next year.

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