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 27 April 2014

The Wonky Bus Hits The Road Once More - Le Splendid, Lille 19th April 2014 and Patronaat, Harlem 18th April 2014

For those intrepid fans who made the trip across The Channel for two excellent gigs that rounded of the European leg of the Ruby tour, here is a souvenier of the event. It comes in the form of an excellent sounding recording of the gig from Le Splendid in Lille.

Thanks to Chatts99 for his efforts here. This has previously been posted on Dimeadozen, but many of you will either be unaware of the site or unable to access the site.

Thanks then are due to Chatts and of course to our events organiser Owen for his sterling efforts in ensuring yet another seamless operation!

01 Intro-Toiler On The Sea
02 No More Heroes
03 Was It You
04 Threatened
05 Relentless
06 Peasant In The Big Shitty
07 Peaches
08 La Folie
09 Midnight Summer Dream
10 Golden Brown
11 Always The Sun
12 Thrown Away
13 Nuclear Device
14 Skin Deep
15 Time To Die
16 Lowlands
17 Nice 'N' Sleazy
18 Walk On By
19 Freedom Is Insane
20 Duchess
21 5 Minutes
22 Hanging Around
23 Encore Break-Norfolk Coast
24 Something Better Change
25 All Day And All Of The Night
26 Encore Break-Tank



Hold the back pages! I have also now had the blessing from ianmacd to upload his excellent recording of the Patronaat gig in Haarlem the previous evening, thus completing the Wonky Bus IV set. Many thanks Ian! Thanks are also due to Marcel van Ooosterhout for permission to use his brilliant shots of the Haarlem gig for the purposes of creating some artwork.

01. Intro
02. Toiler On The Sea
03. No More Heroes
04. Was It You?
05. Threatened
06. Banter
07. Relentless
08. Peasant In The Big Shitty
09. Peaches
10. Midnight Summer Dream
11. Golden Brown
12. Always The Sun
13. Never To Look Back
14. Thrown Away

01. Nuclear Device (The Wizard Of Aus)
02. Skin Deep
03. Time To Die
04. Lowlands
05. Nice 'N' Sleazy
06. Walk On By
07. Freedom Is Insane
08. Duchess
09. 5 Minutes
10. Hanging Around
11. Encore Break
12. Banter
13. Norfolk Coast
14. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
15. All Day And All Of The Night
16. Encore Break
17. Tank




Adrian x

Dave says 'Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrr!!'

Thursday 24 April 2014

(Not) The Captain's Birthday Party - The Forum 24th April 2014

User's of Britain's transport network beware, the Captain has his bus pass!

Tonight's gig promises to be something out of the ordinary. A great celebration of the inspirational music of the late '70's.

Happy Birthday Mr Burns!

Tuesday 22 April 2014

DVD Artwork For the ARET Streamed Paris Concert (L'Olympia 7th April 2014)

ARTE filmed the bands recent showcase performance at L'Olympia in Paris on 7th April. The footage is of the full 2 hour long set and is brilliantly filmed. Available through the link provided on the official site (here), I have pulled together some artwork for the DVD (DVD compatible versions are available on other sites).

A high quality pdf version can be downloaded via this link:

Monday 21 April 2014

26th October 1977 and The Stranglers Feel The Long Arm Of The Law In Brighton

JJ and Jet contemplate their day in court (not to be the last!)
Brighton October 1977

On The No More Heroes tour, a misunderstanding between the Sussex Constabulary and JJ, Jet and Finchley Dennis after the band's gig at the Top Rank Suite in Queen's Road, Brighton, resulted in an overnight sojourn in Brighton nick.

Here's the report as it appeared in The New Musical Express the following week (5th November 1977).

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Found a place in the southern reaches.... A day or two in the saddle ride....

JJ at Sala Albéniz, Gijon

Well make that 9 hours in a people carrier and we're nearer to the mark!

As much as I enjoy seeing the band in this green and pleasant land, it is the possibility of seeing The Stranglers abroad that appeals to me most. Our near proximity to Stansted Airport and the budget carriers that operate out of the airport mean that the option of Euro gigs are always on the table.

The Stranglers in Spain for us was virgin territory and all the more exiting for that. A second draw to this pair of gigs was that Gunta worked in Gijon over 20 years ago when she was responsible for overseeing the successful and accurate discharging of vessels and their payloads of iron ore. So she was very keen to see the town again. Thinking about this part of her career, I wonder at the sense of her bosses that were happy to see a 25 year old girl on her own boarding ships for days in the company of crews who had not seen land for months on end, let alone a woman!! As I recall, she did receive one offer of marriage accompanied by a dowry of a toy wooden ship! Thankfully for me she declined.

The flight to Bilbao was uneventful (always welcome) and we picked up our transport for the weekend quickly enough. Whilst searching the car park bays for the hire car, our paths crossed a collection of instrument wielding youths doing the same. It turned out that this would be Weller Collective were the band The Spitfires who were also playing in Northern Spain on this weekend.

Once on the road, with the appointed drivers up front of this hire tank (as a non-driver, my responsibility was limited to music provider) we started on the long journey across the top of Spain driving along the coast road sandwiched between the Atlantic and the Cantabrian Mountains to the distant port of Gijon. The spectacular scenery however is interrupted frequently with periods spent passing through tunnels..... they like a tunnel over there!

In Gijon, the hotel was located with ease. The cost was most agreeable and although the proprietor could not speak a word of English (and our combined command of Spanish offered no help whatsoever!) I have rarely felt so welcome in a hotel before. For those reading this in the UK, the hostess was a dead ringer in all respects for Margarita Pracatan who for a time frequently amused viewers on The Clive James On Television Show - she was every bit as animated!

A quick recce of the venue was in order before we headed in the direction of the seafront. The band and crew weren't around at this point, so whilst the eager promoters reconfirmed stage times I took the opportunity to take a peak at the stage and joy of joys it was very small.

The six people in our party established ourselves in a lovely bar over the road from the front and we settled down for an hour or so to watch the sun set over the horizon in the company of our good friend, alcohol.

Food followed, which was remarkably cheap, before we made tracks back to the venue for about 11.30.

Me and Paul Cooklin in a Gijon eatery
4th April 2014

Upon entering the venue, we were faced with the support band, The Tanks. I was impressed with the amount of noise they conjoured up as a three-piece. I was convinced that they were Scandinavian, but with hindsight I think that this was down to the fact that they reminded me of The Hives, they hailed from not too distant Toulouse!

The Tanks at Sala Albéniz
4th April 2014

Later, The Stranglers ambled on and powered into 'Toiler On The Sea' and it was at this point that we exchanged bewildered looks as this was like seeing the band in your own living room. There was no ruck at the front, just us, and when JJ moved to the front of the stage, the neck of his bass was projecting into the crowd over my head. Such was the close proximity of the band that it was necessary to step back a little to get both JJ and Baz into the frame when taking a photo.

The Stranglers at Sala Albéniz

It's far to say that the band looked tired, but that's hardly surprising as there had beeen no break to speak of since winding up the UK tour in Manchester a few days previously. For all that, the band were really on top form. Dave (with his keyboard rack sporting the legend 'No Queso....No Bolo!) was able to interact with the crowd well... and I'd like to think that my attempted harmonies during 'Always The Sun' were appreciated!

Baz at Sala Albéniz

Whilst we were expecting a slightly abbreviated set as a result of the continental stage time, they did in fact run to a full two hours as they had down on the UK dates.

Norfolk Coast and Something Better Change at Sala Albéniz

Thus it was that we piled back into our little hotel at around 2.30, 'whispering' in that subtle way that the half cut do. Paul Cooklin immediately entered into negotiation with the son of Mrs Pracatan in an attempt to procur more alcohol. Two bottles were as much as we managed to get hold of as the somewhat perplexed som tried to usher us swiftly in the direction of our rooms so as to ensure the ongoing slumber of other paying customers behind nearby doors.

Given the lateness of the hour and the paucity of the beer supply, the nights entertainment wound up at about 3.30 am as all decamped to their correct rooms.

The next day promised a marathon drive, back in an easterly direction, past our original starting point of Bilbao and onto San Sebastian. Some five hours of tarmac and tunnels were passed in conversation about music (1979 as always) and other such rubbish. I recall that for some reason, I mentioned that The Everley Brothers are a guilty pleasure of mine. At this point, the early rock 'n' roll, which encapsulated the hopes and aspirations of a newly empowered youth generation and a time (at least in Britain) of dreadful austerity, was succinctly summed up by Owen Carne as 'Ted shit!' We are would be music hacks one and all.

Much bigger and seemingly considerably wealthier San Sebastian finally spread out before us, but unfortunately our hotel was located on the furthest of the hills that frame the famous bay. We ascended to a great height in order to check in to our hotel. The view from our bedroom balcony was, I am sure you'll agree, quite stunning.

San Sebastian

The descent back into the town was somewhat quicker, taking advantage as we did of the funicular railway down to the beach. We walked into the old town in search of some traditional Spanish food, but sadly, this was not really forthcoming as the town was packed with people viewing football in every available venue since Real Sociedad were playing host to Real Madrid that night in San Sebastian (4-0 to the away team in case you are wondering). The venue for tonight's gig was about as far as possible from the hotel as possible, again out of town, but this time on the other hill.... and here's where the fun started. It transpired that the venue had been reported wrongly, the stated address transpired to be a small locals bar.

As the stage time approached, I watched on in amusement as Owen became more and more stressed as an outtake from 'This Is Spinal Tap' played out before our eyes. Texts to Baz and Gary, the tour manager offered no answers and it looked as though we could miss at least some of this gig. In the locals bar a couple of the old boys very slowly started to scan each and every page of the local rag for any clue as to who The Stranglers were and where they might be playing. Eventually abandoning this approach two bored policemen in a patrol car were pressed into service. They were only too happy to help (as it relieved the monotony of patrolling the San Sebastian suburbs!). They decided to escort us on foot to the gig and as a result of their initial efforts after 15 minutes of walking we arrived outside of the locals bar. Eventually, the correct location was established from some local girls and the two policemen walked us up to the doors.

'Noche Todo!'

The gig was larger, with a livelier crowd that on the previous night. The set was again tight as Jim's drum and the band evidently enjoyed themselves again. Apparently, Baz thought that it was one of the best gigs from the Ruby Tour thus far.

Duchess and 5 Minutes at the Intaxurrondo in San Sebastian
5th April 2014

JJ and Baz at the Intaxurrondo in San Sebastian

Adrian and Gunta at the Intaxurrondo in San Sebastian

As we left the venue, we were surprised to see our local constabulary friends waiting outside for more hand shaking and words of gratitude in mock Esperanto!

'Misión cumplida!' as they say in Spain.

Baz gets ignored.... could be 'Threatened'

Sunday 13 April 2014

The Rezillos at The Square Harlow 29th March 2014

Fay and Eugene on stage at The Square in Harlow
29th March 2014

I was really looking forward to this gig and things boded well as Gunta and I had the opportunity to catch up with a couple of friends, Chris and Laura, in the downstairs bar before the gig.

With Jo Callis no longer with the band, I thought the guitarist did a good job, in fact the band were pretty tight all round. With a new single out and a new album in the offing, this was an opportunity for the Rezillos to mix it up a bit. This they did, but I found the new material to be somewhat weak, but then again that is in comparison to the songs on 'Can't Stand The Rezillos', one of the best pop punk albums of the late '70's and as such a tough achievement to match. Songs such as 'Life's A Bitch (And Then You Die)' lack the fun and wit of the earlier material. As for their cover of 'River Deep Mountain High'... well it's enough to say that I don't like the original.

Here's the recent single 'Out Of This World'

'Out Of This World'

But, of the classic material, it was delivered well. Songs like 'Top Of The Pops', a thinly veiled side swipe at the TV musical phenomenon that we all loved, but understood to be fake as hell.

There's one - Born every day
Sing song - Then fade away
Ding dong - What's the future in the pop music industry
Alright - So you make the grade
Hold tight - To the buck you made
Just wait - You been rated for constipated peak viewing time

The funniest thing about the song, is that when it did appear on the show, the presenter (Tony Blackburn as I recall) completely missed the point!! But then the Radio 1 DJ's that doubled as TV presenters on a Thursday evening were rather self absorbed with the dumb DJ celebrity thing.

Maybe I just caught them on a bad day, for sure The Square was pretty quiet this evening and that may have been the reason for the absence of an encore... did they return to the stage in other recent gigs?

Nevertheless, as I said, some of it was good indeed and here's a few of the oldies that I filmed.

'Flying Saucer Attack'

'Mystery Action'

'Getting Me Down'

'Cold Wars'