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 adrianandrews1@sky.com.


Monday, 28 February 2022

De Montford Hall Leicester 15th March 1990 DVD

 


Now this is not the greatest footage in the band's arsenal but it is an authentic record of the '10 tour'. The sets were great but the dynamics within the band were somewhat awry. The brass section were still there, an innovation in the band's sound that never sat comfortably with me and John Ellis was drafted in on second guitar for some reason that had not been necessary in the previous sixteen years. To enable Hugh to focus on his vocals I heard.... surplus to requirement I would say without any intended disrespect to JE.

The 10 tour saw a rare reintroduction of 'School Mam' that saw Hugh more animated than he had been for a long time! 

Despite the strangeness of a five-piece arrangement I really could not have predicted that such a seismic change was on the cards for the band just 5 months later.

It was at Leicester that a coded IRA warning message was received shortly before the band's stage time on 23rd February. I was al that gig but unfortunately was not able to make this, the rescheduled date. 



DVD iso image: https://we.tl/t-Z9vikXxIgR

Sleeve: https://we.tl/t-ieQWD2zzpq


Wednesday, 23 February 2022

The Sands Centre Carlisle 28th March 2013

 


Nice sounding recording from the 'Feel It Live' tour. Another fan collaboration. Enjoy!

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-z44xocWt3J

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-aQwjoTiHbO

01. Waltzinblack
02. Toiler On The Sea
03. Goodbye Toulouse
04. Grip
05. Norfolk Coast
06. Nuclear Device
07. Freedom Is Insane
08. Mercury Rising
09. Peaches
10. Relentless
11. Golden Brown
12. Skin Deep
13. Midnight Summer Dream/European Female
14. Burning Up Time
15. Nice N Sleazy
16. Bring On The Nubiles
17. Who Wants The World
18. Time Was Once On My Side
19. Duchess
20. Straighten Out
21. Down In The Sewer
22. Something Better Change
23. No More Heroes
24. Tank

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Festival Internacional De Benicassim 15th July 2011

 


Here is a pro-shot DVD of the band performing at the Benicassim Festival in Spain back in 2011.

DVD Global Image: https://we.tl/t-m7BSL5TXls

DVD Sleeve Artwork: https://we.tl/t-7LVZuqfx02

01. 5 Minutes
02. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
03. Something Better Change
04. Peaches
05. Golden Brown
6. Always The Sun
7. Skin Deep
08. Freedom Is Insane
09. Nice´n´Sleazy
10. London Lady
11. Walk on By
12. Hanging Around
13. Control
14. Duchess
15. All Day And All Of The Night
16. No More Heroes

Saturday, 19 February 2022

And If You Should See Ade…. Say Hello

Rediscovering that gigging mojo!
Glasgow January 2022

I am sure that I am in good company when I say that the tour was highly anticipated and perhaps even a bit of a distraction from all the shit that we have been going through for the longest time…. At least for those that complied with the rules.

Again like many others, when it finally became apparent that the probability of the tour going ahead I had to face the task of locating tickets for Stranglers gigs as well as several others that had been all but forgotten about as we entered that period of suspended animation. For someone as disorganised as myself this was quite a task involving trawling each and every possible ticket vendor with the inevitable requirement to reset long forgotten passwords on each account! It was so bad that I had lost track as to which gigs I had actually purchased tickets for. The physical tickets that I had in hand were for the second night at Brixton, Norwich (purchased at a time when our son, Rudi, was living in Norwich) and a newly issued Aberdeen ticket. Such was the delay to the tour schedule that my Brixton tickets, stored for safekeeping on our kitchen noticeboard, had been thoroughly bleached by sunlight over the course of two summers!

It has become something of a tradition over the past ten years or so to do all of the Scottish dates and that was not about to change. Packing for the tour, albeit minimalisticaly on account of Easyjet’s luggage policies felt like a completely alien task. The flight went well, although the approach into Aberdeen was a little too rocky for my liking.

As gigtime approached how wonderful it felt to be in the company of long term friends undertaking something that we all took so much for granted prior to COVID-19. Of course the commonplace appearance at the soundcheck was no longer a possibility as the band were existing in a COVID bubble or the duration of the tour (and as we know, even this was not enough to safeguard all of the gigs).

The great prospect of the tour for me was that the package remained intact and for the entirety of the tour my two favourite bands were on the bill. As an aside, I struggle here, although uncomplainingly, that Ruts DC have cemented such a strong touring relationship with The Stranglers with a couple of UK tours and antipodean dates under their collective belts. I would always have assumed that the natural touring partnership for Ruts DC would have been with The Damned, given their long association and unique relationship, but whilst Ruts DC have played with The Damned on numerous occasions since 2011 it has been The Stranglers that they have fallen in with on the touring front. I haven’t explored this further as I suspect that it is the wedge on offer that comes into play in such situations!

But let us leave the dirty subject of money aside. I was firmly positioned in front of the stage for the emergence of Ruts DC at 7.45 sharp. Segs opening remark on how good it felt to be back was shared by a good crowd for an early start… another obvious benefit of putting a band like Ruts DC  in as tour support… these are the things that will bolster the recovery of our beleaguered music venues… give the punters value for money!

As ever the band delivered a note perfect set of old and new with a new ‘new’. ‘Born Innocent’ was unleashed on the Aberdeen crowd and I can say that it is cracking. To my (albeit gig-damaged) ears the song had elements of the material on ‘Animal Now’ which for me is great. One of the dilemmas I guess for a band such as Ruts DC who have, since taking the plunge again in 2011, been extraordinarily prolific on the recording front is what to include and what to exclude from the set. In this respect, I do miss the ‘Animal Now’ and'Rhythm Collision Vol. 1' material that the band relied upon early doors. The shortened support slot places further limitations on the band as there are certain songs that just have to be played. In this respect I look forward to Ruts DC headline sets… when I can deliver my list of demands!!

Ruts DC
Aberdeen Music Hall
27th January 2022

Ruffy, Segs and Leigh did a sterling job in restoring ‘Mojo’ to a gig audience that were through no fault of their own rather out of practice! Onwards and upwards.

As The Stranglers’s 9pm stage time approached some of the audience, myself certainly included began to feel a little anxious. After all this was not a routine run of the mill tour. The diehards were facing seeing the band for the first time ever without Dave Greenfield. Since his passing in May 2020 I have mulled over what makes the The Stranglers the Stranglers. After many long sessions in my wife’s sewing room (a converted outhouse in the garden) that we for a time converted into a poor man’s gin palace, we concluded that Dave’s keyboards were absolutely the bedrock of the band’s sound. Talking to friends on the topic, Gunta and I were not alone in this opinion, and as such troubled minds awaited the opening bars of ‘Waltzinblack’.

Now I don’t know how for how long the band and management burned the midnight oil discussing how to introduce the new boy with the biggest shoes to fill, but in my opinion they came up with the perfect solution. Let’s start the gig with three songs that simply drip Dave Greenfield, ‘Toiler’, ‘The Raven’ and ‘Sometimes’…. if young Toby navigates that particular musical minefield (as indeed he certainly did!) we’re half way to winning the battle of hearts and minds. It was only after ‘Sometimes’ that Baz introduced him, at which point he had demonstrated his ability and hopefully placated hose with the greatest fears. A clever strategy. The band went further in the set when ‘Walk On By, was played as the mobile members of the group took to the wings to allow all audience focus to fall on Toby’s handling of one of Dave’s greatest accomplishments. Again he came through with flying colours.

Introducing Toby
Aberdeen Music Hall
27th January 2022

‘Dark Matters’ has perhaps attracted the most positive reviews that the band have enjoyed for the past 40 years or more, so there was great interest to hear these songs live. Of course, the likes of ‘Water’ and ‘This Song’ had been aired on previous tours but there was more to come, not least the massive noise of ‘White Stallion’, my enjoyment of which was greatly enhanced by the school disco moves executed by Nick Pryde right in front of me!

'Ah, you've met Harry
I can tell by your eyes...'

After the equally brilliant ‘Last Men On The Moon’ (marred only by the ugliest guitar that I have seen this side of a ‘flying V’!) the tone turned rather more sombre. Stools were brought on stage for an acoustic segment. The reflective ‘Lines’ was followed by the one that we knew was coming but did not want to face…. ‘And If You Should See Dave...’. JJ introduced the track simply to ‘those that have moved on’. On later dates he was more expansive but tonight emotions were running raw and he was clearly choked.


'For those that have moved on'

It would be unstranlerish to end on such a maudlin note, so the pace was upped for the end of the set to wind up what was a thoroughly enjoyable and poignant gig and a return to gigging for many.

Glasgow the following night delivered as always the expected mayhem. Unfortunately, whilst we saw Ruts DC on the second night we had to leave before the Stranglers set which left London to look forward to. 

I had a ticket for the first Saturday gig in Brixton, which became the second on the announcement of a gig on the Friday. The fact that Mo was now in Manchester meant that I was able to take her ticket for the extra Brixton date. So started two nights of the most brilliant pre-gig banter with some of the nicest folk in the Strangler's fold!

It was at this point, post Brixton that things started to go awry. Owen had reported COVID positive in advance of the Brixton gigs, Jacqui soon followed as did I. This put paid to our planned visit to Manchester. This was a double disappointment as over and above the gig we were due to attend the Manchester Open Exhibition where our daughter Mo (currently studying Fine Art at Manchester School of Art) has had a piece accepted for display.

I have now had COVID for nine days and although I am working from home I am suffering from acute cabin fever.

Post-script... I am now negative! The tour is over for me but I am very much up for some of the festival dates, not forgetting Rebellion. See you soon I hope!


Aural Sculptors Reboot

It's a far cop! The posts on this site have not come as thick and fast over the last six months as in previous years. The reasons are many-fold, a disastrous and costly house renovation, the sale of my Mother-in-Law's flat (now in progress for no less than 5 months!) and not forgetting the fact that COVID-19 finally caught up with me and Gunta after dodging it for two full years!

As the tour approaches the end, I can say that in the coming weeks a handful of recordings from the tour will be appearing thanks to the generosity and ongoing support of some long standing supporters and contributors to the Aural Sculptors site. Thanks all!

It is also my intention to put more DVD material on the site to supplement the audio posts as I have sufficient capacity across the two WeTransfer accounts that support the site. I am also keen to increase the content gleaned from various music press weeklies from back in the day. I love to read old interviews that contextualise the band at a given point in time. The belligerent interviews make for the best reading (of course) and from a vantage point of 40 years on it is easy to understand just why it was that the press vilified them! The Meninblackin print FaceBook page does a great job in making much of the press material available and I hope to add to that on these pages. This would be the case for The Stranglers and the other usual cross-over bands that we all hold dear.

Stick with me and the site and feel free to get involved and contribute. It has always been the case that the collection has been light on Mark II/III material and as such such when I update my own list on here I would welcome any efforts to fill in some of the gaps (preferably in lossless format but in MP3 otherwise).

All the best.

Adrian.