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

Friday 9 June 2023

Ruts DC Water Rats King's Cross London 24th and 28th May 2023


Limited tickets the ad stated, I'll go for that I thought. I have been going to gigs in London since 1985, being from outside of London, earlier gigs were mostly attended in Brighton, but I had never yet set foot in The Water Rats on the Grays Inn Road. That surprised me as it has an impeccable rock 'n' roll pedigree as a venue of some standing. Perhaps the jewel in its fact crown is that it played host to Bob Dylan for his first UK gig. Snotty Burnage boys, Oasis, played their first London gig here and The Pogues, when Pogue Mahone, played their first drunken gig at Water Rats too. For this first Ruts DC gig, the London date on the Faces In The Sky/Counterculture Part 2 tour, tickets were as I recall limited to 100... pretty intimate. In the event, this was just as well for the following reasons 1) the venue at the back of the pub is very small, 2) it was the end of May and the outside temperature was quite warm and 3) the inside temperature was roasting!

I arrived part way through the exclusive playback of the new second volume of their acoustic album, which is fine as I will buy it and listen to it at my own leisure. More important was a meet up with a regular crowd of friends ahead of the main event at 9. 

With stage time upon us I manoeuvered my way with Gunta to the front... not a grand feat as it was but a few short steps from the rear of the venue! The band emerged looking remarkably fresh given that they had been subject to a pretty grueling tour schedule for the past two weeks.

Opening up the set with 'Faces In The Sky', I must confess that I had never really sat down (as I always used to) to pour over the lyrics. Doing so now, it is not lost on me that this song, an attack on the ever increasing impact on our lives of smart technology and specifically A.I. has gone nuclear (no pun intended) in the press, not the song of course but the tech. For this month, this idea of Artificial Intelligence is the news headlines! What was the subject of science fiction Hollywood films is now being mooted as a potential instigator of human extinction. The scariest part is that the messengers of this apocalyptic prophecy are none other than the computer scientists that have been at the cutting edge of this technology! Well, Ruts DC got in there first!

Very soon though I was back on more familiar turf with a trio of Ruts classics in the form of 'SUS', 'You're Just A...' and 'It Was Cold' (just for the record, it was not!). Then joy of joys, in the next clutch of tracks a couple of tracks from 1981's 'Animal Now' resurfaced in the form of 'No Time To Kill' and 'Despondency' which saw Segs and Leigh swap four strings for six strings in an instrument exchange. I have rued the fact that I miss this 1981 material from the band's set these days (an inevitable consequence of their prolific release rate I know). I also understand that material from that album is not easy for them to play given the circumstances under which that material was written and recorded. 

The front of the stage seemed to be heating up to very uncomfortable levels, but the new album's title track, 'Counterculture' only ratcheted the pace up a bit more before 'Born Innocent', 'Jah War', 'Poison Games' and 'Caught In The Kill Zone' offered some respite. 

One highlight of many were the musical tributes paid to fellow bass players during 'In A Rut' in the form of 'How Soon Is Now?' (Andy Rourke) and 'Love Song' (Algy Ward). Of course Algy was on bass for The Damned on that incendiary tour in the Summer of 1979 that really broke The Ruts. A really nice touch!

As is usual the set was closed with 'Psychic Attack' and that sprang yet another surprise. Standing next to us throughout the set was Peter, the mentally troubled the central character in the song's video. Having spotted him, Segs gestured that he should come on stage which he duly did, so for one song Ruts DC merged with interpretive dance as Peter deftly recreated his moves of mental anguish between the guitarist and bass player.

It was a fantastic set and it was also fantastic to get out into the cooler air of Kings Cross!

The gig on the Sunday night was less packed which was a blessing for all I think as the day itself was quite hot. I am sure that the band were glad of the extra available oxygen as they embarked on the last night of their tour. The gig was wonderful but similar to that that I have described above. Of note was yet another insert of tribute during 'In A Rut' as in the interval between the two Water Rats gigs news broke of the death of Tina Turner. The band played a little of 'Nutbush City Limits' on the night.

Now looking forward to seeing them again at Rebellion and in December.


  1. Leigh Heggarty12 June 2023 at 18:26

    Great stuff Adrian, thanks very much for this - we did change things for the second night but in doing so left out an Animal Now song (No Time To Kill) in favour of Back Biter. Sorry! We also replaced Caught In The Kill Zone with Music Must Destroy… yes it was foolishly, maybe even dangerously hot but speaking personally they were two of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve ever played. Oh yes!

  2. Thanks Leigh, as a band you are for sure in a privileged position to be able to vary the set as much as you do. You have certainly put the studio hours in since 2011 and as I have said on many occasions here some favourites have to make way.