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

Wednesday 26 December 2018

PiL The Rainbow London 26th December 1978

40 years ago today and the second UK appearance (the previous being the night before at The Rainbow) for this angry young man's second outfit.


Monday 10 December 2018

Sunday 9 December 2018

Buzzcocks Living Room Providence R.I. 7th November 1989

At the very end of the '80's the rumour mill started to grind with whisperings of a Buzzcocks reunion. As I recall this was fuelled, at least in part, when Steve Diggle's Flag of Convenience transformed into Buzzcocks F.O.C. Anyway, in 1989 rumour became fact and I had my first chance to see them.

With no new material at that time, these first gigs were purely a celebration of the band's mighty back catalogue.... no issues with that! So this is a date from the US leg of that 'Telling Friends' tour from two sources, one audience and one soundboard (somewhat edited). What I have always considered to be a little unusual is the extent of the success that the band enjoyed Stateside given that they are just so British and so different to the bands that make it big in the US. The Clash conquered the States by honing their sound to a US radio friendly one. On the other hand, The Jam, arguably the biggest band in Britain at one time never really broke America and yet Buzzcocks were successful.



Friday 7 December 2018

Buzzcocks Manchester Polytechnic 22nd May 1980

OK last one for today. Here the lads are back in their home town playing for BBC Radio 1 at the Polytechnic. This is the full set that was broadcast and may be the complete set for the gig, I don't know for sure. Notable in this is Pete's dedication of 'Strange Thing' to Ian Curtis who had hanged himself in the early hours of the previous Sunday.

This short set includes three tracks from a trio of singles released that year that went under the name of Parts 1-3. To my mind as brilliant as the hormone drenched, teen angst earlier singles are, these three releases (Parts 1-3) are about as good as Buzzcocks get, completely left field stuff, dark and experimental. Some of it should not work but it does. As constant touring wore the band down and the use of ever heavier drugs started to take their toll, the frustrations, tensions and paranoias colluded to produce some of the bands most creative and innovative music. In The Stranglers world similar internal and external pressures gave rise to 'The Raven' and 'The  Gospel According to the Meninblack'. Not immediately accessible to the fan base, especially the latter, these albums are now highly thought of and the same is true of the last released Buzzcocks material.


01. I Don’t Mind
02. Ever Fallen In Love
03. What Do I Get?
04. Strange Thing
05. Why She’s A Girl From The Chainstore
06. What Do You Know?
07. Autonomy

Buzzcocks The Longhorn Minneapolis 10th September 1979

Here are the band coming towards the end of their first US tour with a gig in Minneapolis and a nice sounding one it is too!


01. I Don’t Mind
02. What Do I Get?
03. Love You More
04. Harmony In My Head
05. Sixteen
06. Autonomy
07. Moving Away From The Pulsebeat
08. Nothing Left
09. Noise Annoys
10. Breakdown
11. Ever Fallen In Love
12. Promises
13. Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
14. Boredom
15. Oh Shit!

Buzzcocks Top Rank Suite Brighton 8th March 1978

A great soundboard gig from sunny Brighton (well maybe not in early March!). This is classic era Buzzcocks with a set mainly reflecting the 'Spiral Scratch' E.P. and the first albun 'Another Music in a Different Kitchen'. 'Noise Annoys' is introduced as a new song!

Brilliant stuff....... Enjoy!



01. Breakdown
02. Fast Cars
03. I Don't Mind
04. Noise Annoys
05. Autonomy
06. Get On Our Own
07. Sixteen
08. Walking Distance
09. Boredom
10. Whatever Happened To?
11. Moving Away From The Pulsebeat
12. Fiction Romance
13. Love You More
14. Love Battery
15. Oh Shit!
16. What Do I Get?
17. Time's Up

Buzzcocks The Screen On The Green London 29th August 1976

Ok, so no apologies from me for this moment of indulgence, here's the first of a number of Buzzcocks gigs from over the years.

Starting off with a legendary gig from the earliest days of punk in London Town;


01. Breakdown 
02. Friends of Mine 
03. Times Up 
04. Orgasm Addict 
05. Peking Hooligan 
06. Lester Sands (Drop in the Ocean) 
07. Oh Shit! 
08. You Tear Me Up 
09. Love Battery 
10. I Can't Control Myself 
11. I Love You, You Big Dummy

It's Unthinkable!.... Pete Shelley Dies at 63

Last night as I sat on my own at home watching TV my phone pinged. It was a message from Gunta, it said 'Have you heard the sad news about Pete Shelley?' Such words could only point to one thing.... my attention to the documentary that I was watching evaporated instantly as I started to search credible news sites for confirmation of the facts. At the same time the traffic on my Facebook account spiked as many of my like minded friend's, 'Friends of Mine' you could say, reacted to the rumour that seemed to be rapidly solidifying into an awful fact.

..... and there it was, 'Breaking News' on the BBC website..... 'Buzzcocks singer Pete Shelley dies at 63'.

'Oh Shit!' indeed. Of course we have been through this before, Joe Strummer, The Ramones and of course David Bowie. For me each of those rock 'n' roll deaths were rather different to this one. The passing of David Bowie was genuinely a huge thing that effected millions in a very personal way, myself included, but the news of Pete going is hitting me harder. I never met Joe, any of the original Ramones or David Bowie whereas I met Pete Shelley on a couple of occasions. The second occasion was in Budapest (if I remember correctly) in April 2011. I was there for a company meeting with other work colleagues. At breakfast in the hotel, I looked up from my cornflakes only to see Pete standing not 10 feet away patiently waiting for his toast to do a revolution in one of those awful hotel toasting machines, the ones that never toast evenly! Well, I was due to make some toast myself so I walked over and said hi, made some throwaway remark about toasting efficiency,  mentioned that I was a fan of the band and asked him what had brought him to Hungary. It was holiday and always conscious of invading the space of musicians, especially when 'off-duty' I said 'See you on tour' and returned to my seat as Pete threaded his way through the breakfast diners holding his pale/charred toast. I thought that was the end of it.

After two days of all day meetings it was time to make for the airport for a return flight to London. For whatever reason the British Airways flight was facing a delay which appeared to be increasing steadily as the evening turned into night. Frequent trips to the departure board were made to follow the progress of the flight. On one of these occasions, I was crowded around the screen when the delay increased by a further two hours on the turn of the page. 'Oh Shit!' I uttered and turned away only to find the diminutive Mr Shelley standing at my shoulder...... oh God he's gonna think I'm a mad fan who is quoting song titles deliberately within his earshot! 'Hello again' he said as I hurried back to the kiosk come bar. By now I was feeling rather sorry for myself, with the current delays we would not be touching down at Heathrow until the early hours of the morning at which point I needed to cross London to Sutton, At 5 the next morning  a group of us were to drive Dover as we were scheduled to see The Stranglers in the coming days on an acoustic tour of the Lowlands. No sleep for me then!

The hours wore on, the shops closed and successful flights fell off the departure board leaving a sorry looking BA flight in red as the only one still displayed. Airport delays + beer = frequent trips to the toilet and it was as I returned from yet another visit that I crossed the now deserted concourse just as Pete rounded the corner. We were the only two people in this huge space and he wandered over to me. He was with company that evening but he was quite happy to spend half an hour talking music. We discussed the band's current progress in the studio, Garth, Steve (I mentioned the withering looks Pete had become in the habit of giving him in his more excitable moments........ 'Oh that's just Steve' he said) and the original come back dates, my first time. We went on to discuss solo stuff, the short lived Zip and the excellent 'Heaven and the Sea'. All great stuff that lifted my mood no end. As we were about to head off in opposite directions he said that I might be interested in some dates that the band were planning for October that would bring the original, the 'classic' and current line ups together for a couple of nights that would celebrate Buzzcocks over their career. In the event, October was optimistic, but the dates went ahead as 'Front to Back in May 2012.

'Enjoy The Stranglers!' he said over his shoulder as he sauntered off.