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 23 October 2011

The Stranglers at Brunel University in 1977

Now don't get exited, this is not a Eureka moment. I have not managed to unearth a 'lost' early recording here. All I can offer here is a 'review' (although I don't see any mention of what went on in the gig - quite obviously said Reid was perhaps not destined for a career in journalism upon graduation!) and an ad for a later show.

I went to Brunel in the late '80's, some 11 years too late to witness some of the classic gigs that were staged there in Uxbridge. In 1988, I packed my things and headed west on the Metropolitan Line to its very end. The joke at the time amongst some of my friends was that the sole reason for my choosing to study at Brunel was that it was an anagram of Burnel! The truth is far less interesting.... they would take me with the less than spectacular grades that I achieved.

The following two pieces appeared in the pages of 1977 issues of the student newspaper 'Le Nurb' - yet another anagram I fear!

The article below was a review of the bands appearance there on the Rattus tour on 20th May 1977. On this occasion playing in the Kingdom Room, the Student Union I suspect.

The set (thanks to was as follows:

(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
Feel Like A Wog
Dagenham Dave
Something Better Change
No More Heroes
Hanging Around
London Lady
Down In The Sewer
Peasant In The Big Shitty
Straighten Out

20th May 1977 The Kingdom Room
'Le Nurb' Brunel University

Between the band's first appearance and the next as part of autumn '77's 'No More Heroes' tour, punk and new wave had become mainstream with The Stranglers leading the charge (at least in terms of units sold). As a result, the September 29th gig took place in the larger Sports Hall (also venue for one of the last appearances by the Pistols before their Stateside implosion).

Ad for 29th September 1977 gig
'Le Nurb' Brunel University

It is clear that on the occasion of this second appearance, tickets were available to a wider (non-student) Uxbridge audience with a student allocation of 500. To the best of my knowledge, this gig passed off without incident (or at least with an unremarkable degree of incident for  a 1977 Stranglers gig!).

If you were there, don't be shy and drop us a note.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Ruts DC - Da Capo (Again) 2011!

The best band I never saw were undoubtedly The Ruts. Rock solid, with great songs and great attitude. With an inherent understanding of reggae they to my mind were the real deal.... but, but The Clash I hear you say.... You're Just A..... I say!

In 1988 I went to Brunel University way out on the Western extreme of the Metropolitan Line. In my time there I lived in a variety of places, most notably Hayes and Southall. This was The Ruts manor, but of course by 1988 Malcolm Owen was long in his grave and Ruts DC were no more.

However, I got to know people who were acquainted with the band and for whom they were still a great source of local pride. If The Ruts were criminally overlooked (not uncommonly described in the dubious annals of punk rock history as a second division band),  Ruts DC faired even worse, struggling in difficult times with an audience largely resistant to their efforts to move the band in new directions.

Formed the year after Malcolm's tragic demise (Don't Bring Harry indeed!). The surviving members made the decision to continue under the moniker Ruts DC (Da Capo or back to the beginning). In 1981 they realeased the magnificent 'Animal Now' album. It's a very introspective album, perhaps unsurprisingly so given the band's experiences over the previous two years. It succeded in the sense that it hoisted the Ruts banner, but carried it in something of a diferent direction. Sadly, 'Animal Now' has had only the shortest of runs on CD... write to your MPs!

Ruts DC
Mirror Cracked
Hurrah's NYC December 1980

Later, they immersed themselves in dub, releasing Rhythum Collision with Mad Professor in 1982 and it is this album or should I say Rhythum Collision Volume 2 (again with said Mad Professor) that sees the band reaminated for 4 dates supporting Alabama 3, with whom bass Segs has been involved.

More details can be found in this Louder than War interview with Andy Peart.

So by way of celebration of one of the greatest punk bands ever to have been spat at, here's a nice sounding boot of the band in Edinburgh in 1981.


  1. Intro    
  2. A Different View 
  3. Demolition Dancing         
  4. Dangerous Minds  
  5. It Was Cold    
  6. Love In Vain    
  7. Mirror Smashed                     
  8. Formula Eyes 
  9. Despondency              
  10. Fools   
  11. West One (Shine On Me)
  12. Parasites          
  13. Staring At The Rude Boys   
  14. No Time To Kill 
  15. S.U.S. 
  16. Jah War    
  17. A Different View 
  18. Society            
Many thanks to the original uploader for the files and artwork.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Cambridge Junction 5th October 2006

Ok, I have calmed down now, so back to matters in hand. With Guilfest some months in the past, there followed the Suite XVI UK tour. I'm not mad about gigs in Cambridge, but they are a bit of a home game for me and for some reason, the promoters had plumped for the much smaller Junction venue. I love this place, it is intimate and so much more preferable to the sterile barn that is the Corn Exchange.

This was an opportunity to hear the new material, Unbroken, Sommat Owtanowt and Spectre of Love.... a new single! I loved this gig as it reinforced the feelings that I had in Guilford in the summer. The band were on great form and really appeared to be enjoying themselves on stage. The contrast with the last time I had seen the band as a headline act (as opposed to a festival appearance) could not have been starker! By coincidence, this was in the aforementioned Corn Exchange in 1998, when the band's performance was lacklustre and decidedly disinterested.

Very listenable this one.



1. Intro
2. 5 Minutes
3. (Get A) Grip (on Yourself)
4. Spectre Of Love
5. Nice n Sleazy
6. Death & Night & Blood
7. Unbroken
8. Peaches
9. Always The Sun
10. Golden Brown
11. I Hate You
12. Lost Control
13. Summat Outanowt
14. Walk On By
15. Relentless

1. Threatened
2. Burning Up Time
3. All Day & All Of The Night
4. Thrown Away
5. Duchess
6. London Lady
7. Nuclear Device
8. Dagenham Dave
9. No More Heroes

Monday 3 October 2011

The Specials Ancienne Belgique 28th September 2011

I posted in anticipation of this gig a couple of weeks ago and last week it was upon us. The last night of the European tour and my sixth gig for the reformed Specials.

In a travelling party of four, myself, Gunta, an old friend Andy Peart and his partner Abbie set off from St Pancras on Wednesday morning for the little over 2 hour train journey into Brussels. For those who have never travelled on the Eurostar, it is a very civilised way to get to the continent. Give it a go. At the other end, a short taxi ride took us into the centre of Brussels and to our respective hotels. Our hotel, being functional but most importantly clean, was given the most cursory of inspections before Gunta and I set out to for a wander (via a bar or two).

Meeting our travelling companions for a pre-gig meal, we got to the venue in good time, as we had two unneeded tickets to off-load before going in. Very surprisingly, it proved to be impossible to sell them at all, even though the gig had been sold out for six months or more.

The tour bus, parked right outside the venue provided an obvious photo opportunity, with the lens shared with a life-size Walt of Teflon's making.

Adrian, Gunta & Andy
Ancienne Belgique 28th September 2011

The venue, the Ancienne Belgique, has played host to every band of note, including The Stranglers and is a great mid-size venue, holding I'd say about 2000. Something akin to an intimate Brixton Academy, it's size was our main reason for taking in a European date, as the venues selected for the UK dates are somewhat cavernous. I had no problem in getting upto the barrier in a stage right position nearest to Lynval.

An on schedule start showed no surprises in the set, by all accounts some treats are being held back for the UK. Meaning no offence to fans of the band in Europe, I really do think that the music has perhaps a greater resonance when played in the cities in which they were created and first played in, such is the extent with which those songs are associated with the tough times of the late 70's/early 80's in Britain. Still what is there to complain about with a classic Specials set?!

The band looked tired, but in good spirits throughout the show. I would say that the audience were relatively quiet, but I was not expecting a break in the show when Terry had the lighting engineer train a spot light on a guy, who up in the stalls had spent the previous 20 minutes in a deep sleep! Can you imagine falling asleep during a Specials gig. The man once woken from his slumbers took it well and played up to the jeers of the rest of the crowd.

Only one encore was served up on this occasion, Guns of Navarone and You're Wondering Now and then they bid Europe farewell, possibly for the last ever time. I suspect the anthem that is Ghost Town may make a reappearance in the UK.

One thought stuck in my head from the midway point of the show, when Terry, in anticipation of the homeward bound journey started to sing 'We're all going on the Eurostar tomorrow, Eurostar tomorrow, Eurostar tomorrow....'. We were booked to be on the Eurostar at lunchtime the following day and by my reckoning, with a rudimentary understanding of the lifestyles of a touring band, there was a reasonable chance that we would be heading back on the same train. Time would tell.

It was back to a bar, for another couple of alfresco beers (the evening was very hot, more like a summer in the Med, rather than late September in Northern Europe) and a post-mortem of the show.

Next morning we took our leave of the centre of town and took the train out to the Eurostar terminal. With very little to do other than to settle down to another beer in the spartan surroundings of the bar/cafe until departure time, I was contemplating the awfulness of my passport photo when Gunta exitedly caught my attention from the sandwich queue. Trying to point subtly, she was mouthing 'It's Terry Hall!'. Sure enough there in the queue was our Terry also in search of sustenance. Never particularly shy under such circumstances I bowled over to him in order to say a quick hello and to have my ticket signed. No sooner had I left Terry to his selection and regained my seat that I turned around to see Specials coming into the bar from all angles!

First came Lyn who came over directly and talked very excitedly about the UK dates to come. To see a man so enthused about the prospect of another few weeks on the road was wonderful and I am sure that if they all take to the stage in Wolverhampton next week with even half the energy with which Lyn described the shows, no one will go home disappointed! Set surprises and stunning lighting are to be the order of the day apparently.

Lynval & Adrian
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

Neville came over next and was happy to pose for a couple of photos.

Adrian & Neville
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

Neville, Gunta and Lynval
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

Over on the other side of the bar sat Brad, in conversation with Terry. Conscious of not overstaying my welcome, but at the same time clutching a partially signed ticket with a real possibility to get the 'full set', I wandered over to the table and presented the ticket for signature. Both Brad and Terry were happy to chat and pose, mentioning the previous night's incident with the stoned, sleeping 'fan'.

Brad & Terry Mugging for the Camera!
Brussels Eurostar Terminal 29th September 2011

And so onto the platform where I spied Horace settling into his seat. I had met Horace before and one again on this occasion he lived up to his 'Gentleman' moniker.

On the other side of the Channel, Lyn and Horace waved enthusiastically as they gathered for their respective transportation and we headed to the Underground. At this point I saw Roddy, but decided to leave them be this time around.

Obviously, to have met 5 of the 6 original members of the band made a fantastic and completely unexpected finale to a great away trip. A nicer, bunch of blokes you could not hope to meet! Cheers to you all and see you in London.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Warfield Theatre San Francisco 10th May 1987

Here's one by request from the US leg of the Dreamtime Tour. Russell Breeding from Houston attended this gig. Hope you enjoy it, even though it's incomplete.



  1. Nice In Nice
  2. Punch And Judy
  3. Souls
  4. Always The Sun
  5. Northwinds
  6. Big In America
  7. Nice ’N’ Sleazy
  8. Who Wants The World
  9. Spain
  10. Grip
  11. Nuclear Device
  12. Peaches
  13. Duchess
  14. London Lady

Weston Super Mare Hutton Moor Leisure Centre 3rd June 2006

"Ladies and Gentlemen.... and Then There Were Four"

And so we come to the next chapter and the gig that was for me the biggest event in the band's career since the departure of Hugh nearly 16 years earlier. Without any forewarning, the band reverted back to a four-piece and the first that anyone outside of the bands inner circle knew about it was Baz Warne's opening line of the Weston gig. Like in 1990, the departure of Paul Roberts sparked rumour and counter rumour as to the whys and the wherefore of the decision. Unlike in 1990, with the internet, the discussion was all very much more public and all of the 'Who's better, who's best' resurfaced to the benefit of no-one.

For my part, I greeted the news with a great deal of exitement, especially on hearing this recording. The band that I ran away from a decade or more ago were back. Not the same as before, but much more akin to earlier days, with vocals once again shared. The dynamic of the band as a four piece was what mattered most.

In my head a light switch was activated and it was back to where I left off... the gigs, the social life and the avid gathering of the live recordings. Of course, not everyone felt the same, but for a great many of us this marked another new start and a definate shifting up of a gear.



  1. Waltzinblack
  2. The Raven
  3. Big Thing Coming
  4. All Day And All Of The Night
  5. Peaches
  6. Long Black Veil
  7. Death And Night And Blood
  8. Toiler On The Sea
  9. Golden Brown
  10. Never To Look Back
  11. Goodbye Toulouse
  12. Something Outa Nothing
  13. Walk On By
  14. I’ve Been Wild
  15. Lost Control
  16. Duchess
  17. Burning Up Time
  18. London Lady
  19. Dagenham Dave
  20. No More Heroes
  21. The Meninblack
With the understanding that the band had reinvented themselves again, I wanted to see the result as soon as possible. The band were due to play the Guilfest on 16th July and this presented the perfect opportunity. It was also the opportunity to meet up with some very old friends. Paul Cooklin and I had last been in touch 17 years previously, but hooked up again in Guildford on that day.

In the blistering heat I watched the band with a big, stupid grin across my face. One minute into '5 Minutes' and it was clear to me that The Stranglers were once again a potent musical force. The frustrations of the last 16 years were washed away and the obsession was back!