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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday 26 November 2023
Saturday 25 November 2023
Thanks as ever to my friend Peter for sharing this recent gig that 999 played in Dortmund recently. A great solid set as always from one of the most important band's in my world! They seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves right now. Stuart posted that as of 19th November the band had clocked up 38 gigs in the year... fair play to a work rate like that from a band that mark their 48th anniversary next month.
We were hoping to make it over to Germany for this one. We haven't been to the area since Gunta's aunt died in Dusseldorf some years ago and we have yet to see 999 abroad. However, she has just embarked on a degree course and is having to study for the first time in 40 years, so leisure time is a little restricted for now! Sadly, Ruts DC in Dusseldorf went the same way this year too. Next year we will do better!
Stranglers bassist JJ Burnel on how he stays fit: ‘No sex or drugs – just rock n roll’ Daily Telegraph Interview (19th November 2023 - The Telegraph)
Couldn't bring myself to purchase The Telegraph, but for anyone who missed it here's Liz Kershaw's interview with JJ from 19th November 2023.
You know you’re getting on a bit when your pop idols become pensionable – and that’s if they’re lucky. In recent years, so many of mine have sadly slipped off all too soon to that great gig in the sky. Others have simply slipped on stage. Bruce Springsteen, 74, took a tumble during at least two gigs on his recent 50th anniversary world tour and had to cancel a few nights because of a mystery illness. Earlier this year Madonna, 65, (who also famously had a fall at the 2015 Brit Awards) was hospitalised due to a bacterial infection and had to postpone her 40th anniversary tour. Mick Jagger, 80, meanwhile, takes a preventative approach and travels with a mobile gym and a physiotherapist.
Clearly it’s a perilous business being an ageing rock star. So what does it take to ensure you’re stage-ready at 9pm when your peers are settled on a sofa with a cup of tea? Bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel is now the last man standing from the Stranglers’ original line-up.
Next year, at 72, he’ll notch up half a century as the driving force of one of our most innovative and enduring British bands. He lives with his partner in Provence, in his French parents’ old house, but was recently in the UK for the launch of his autobiography, Strangler in the Light, and to rehearse for the band’s Golden Anniversary tour, on which he’ll once again be thrashing his bass, karate-kicking at the crowd and ripping off his soaking shirts to get his pecs out. Fifty years on, Stranglers’ gigs are still mostly sold out – and an energetic business. So how does Burnel stay so fit?
“Touring is exhausting. You have to keep in good shape. It’s all down to respect for the people who’ve paid good money to see us. How many bands are still going strong after 50 years and can sell out the Royal Albert Hall in seconds? I used to be a punk and, as an angry young man, I was very anti-authoritarian and always getting into punch-ups. But this tour won’t be Last Night of the Punks. These days I’m much more disciplined. And I’m not ready to retire yet!
I’m a seventh dan in karate – [one of] the highest rated in the UK – so I’ve always worked really hard on keeping myself fit. I’m always busy with band stuff but I never miss exercising, indoors or out. My “religion” dictates that I do at least one training session every day. I do up to 100 press-ups and sit-ups and work on kicks and exercises to work the different muscle groups – whether I’m in a hotel room or at home, where I also do cold-water swimming in my pool or a nearby lake. Or I walk a mountain trail. But I don’t run because it’s bad for the joints.
The best exercise is to be on my feet on stage. Moving about on stage stops my backache for a couple of hours. I try to give it my all and I lose about two litres [3½ pints] of fluids during a gig – by the end I’m completely drained.
These gigs will be more than three hours long, and mainly in seated venues, with an interval… or rather a comfort break – a lot of our fans have been with us since 1974.
All the playing and travelling is gruelling and it’s so easy to let yourself go. So as well as making time for exercise, I insist on eating healthily: mostly protein and greens. I always eat breakfast – usually eggs, sometimes with bacon and brown sauce, but no bread and always fresh coffee. I’ll have a salad for lunch and in the evenings, at home, I like to cook fish, lobster, meat and veg. I’m partial to truffle oil and a dollop of crème fraîche. On tour we have a couple of cooks with us. If I do have to grab any junk food I’m filled with self-loathing!
Being French I like a small glass of rose with my lunch, home or away. But there’s no other booze before the gig. The band do enjoy a well-deserved drink while we chat through our post-match analysis. If we’ve had a really good night we might pop a bottle of champagne and then a couple of bottles of red. But nobody needs a hangover, just plenty of sleep. I’ll usually get to bed by 1am wherever I am and fall asleep to Debussy. And I don’t get up until 11 unless I have to be up and on the road early. I know it doesn’t sound very “sex and drugs and rock ’n’ roll” from the guy who was NME’s Stud of The Year in 1977! But still, I hope I’m not your standard septuagenarian.
I was only 21 when I met the other guys from the band. I’d just dropped out of uni when I picked up a hitchhiker near Guildford one night and met his mates, and next thing I was invited to replace him in their band. We all lived hand to mouth above the off licence owned by our drummer, Jet Black. By 1976 we were getting 200 gigs a year in pubs. Jet would collect our 25-quid fee and then treat us to Kentucky Fried Chicken, which I loved back then – though I wouldn’t touch it now.
I had no fat on me but I wasn’t scraggy. I was a little kid in London in the hungry 1950s, when food was still rationed. But my dad was tall and muscular, from Viking stock, and my mum was tall and beautiful, so I had good genes. So I was already over 6ft at my all-boys grammar school. I played rugby and as I was always getting into fights I’d taken up boxing, so I already had muscles when I discovered a karate club at uni.
As a student I had no idea how to talk to girls. Six years later, when the Stranglers were on stage there for the first time, I was an absolute babe-magnet! There’d be girls queueing up outside my hotel room door. And then top models are all over you and you’re invited to fashion shows and Grace Jones jumps out of a cake for you at a party and famous rock stars’ wives are blatantly chatting you up… It all got so weird. How did I cope? I was like a kid in a candy shop – I just went for it! I’m told I’m still cute, but actually I’m not that bothered about sex anymore. Lower testosterone – it’s a fact of later life.
On this tour we’ll be playing songs from our catalogue of around 200 from 18 albums. We’re playing some of the more obscure ones live for the first time. Back in the day we were trying to be clever and they’re quite complex arrangements and hard to play now. I’m having to get my head – and fingers – round all the notes and regain muscle memory. To be honest, we were off our heads on mind-altering drugs back when we wrote them.
For one whole year, me and some of the other guys decided to take heroin to see if it inspired us creatively. We’d inhale lines of heroin (for a high) mixed with coke (for energy). It did produce a different kind of album! But I was going to bed at dawn and sleeping all day. I was 30 and in a pathetic physical state. As thin as anything, just skin and bones. Dave [Greenfield], our keyboard player, took charge. I went cold turkey, which was grim, and after two or three days I vowed I’d never touch the stuff again.
What saved me was that I never injected anything. That and karate, which has helped me hold back – though getting injured goes with the territory. I’ve torn cartilage, muscles and tendons, broken bones and had two screws in my leg and done a whole Stranglers tour on crutches. But karate has kept me on an even keel and, as well as keeping me physically fit, it’s a much-needed coping mechanism. A way of life. A philosophy. “Never give up. Persevere. Remain faithful. Respect yourself and others.” I now share this with the students at my Shidokan karate school in London, which I set up more than 30 years ago.
Emotionally, the last six decades have been a real rollercoaster and at times I have struggled with my mental health. At my lowest point I tried to top myself. Our fifth album, [The Gospel According to the] Meninblack, came out in 1981 and went straight to number eight in the charts, but the next week it had disappeared. We were skint. I thought it was all over, so I took myself off to my garage… Luckily I really was a failure!
Hugh Cornwell, our singer, called me after a gig in 1990 and said he was leaving us. All the band’s assets were then frozen. I had no money. I had to sell my motorcycles to feed my kids. The highs have been getting my pride and the band back on track.
The Stranglers have never been seen as soppy, because we’ve never written love songs. But on our last album, Dark Matters, in 2021, two songs are about love. One [And if You Should See Dave…] for my friend of 45 years, Dave Greenfield, who we lost to Covid. Plus The Lines is about still being able to love yourself when you look in the mirror and have to face up to ageing.
Some of my peers are having Botox and dying their hair. I think they look ridiculous. I just accept the wrinkles and white hairs – as well as a bad back, detached retinas and hearing loss. I’ve yet to write a song about incontinence!
One thing that I’ve learnt over the years is that you can’t go on stage wasted. If I am tired one morning, that’s a pain, but if it gets so that I wake up every morning knackered, then I’ll think about packing it in. But I have to be doing something. I can’t bear lying around on beaches. I’d still be revving up my motorcycle or hiking with my dog in the mountains. And jamming in a local blues band with a founder member of the Yard Birds. Oh, and enjoying the Telegraph crossword every Saturday! And my little grandkids, aged two and three, who are the real stars now. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a big softy really.”
Sunday 19 November 2023
Friday 17 November 2023
Sunday 12 November 2023
I like the fact that the book is structured in terms of themes rather than having a chronological presentation, this breaks up what is ultimately a very well known story for a great many readers. Early in the book, JJ elaborates on his sense of being different. It cannot have have been easy growing up with French heritage 10 years or so after the Second World War. My family have first hand experience of this. My wife is half German and half Latvian. Born in '65 and raised in Coventry, 25 years after Goebbels boasted of the city being 'Coventrated'. The fact that my in-laws dressed her up in a Heidi outfit didn't really help matters. Roll the calendar forward some 30 years and we find ourselves sitting in the Junior School headmasters office as he apologised for the nazi taunts that our kids had been subjected to in the playground. Kids are very cruel, so just like the narrator in Johnny Cash's 'A Boy Named Sue', our JJ had to learn to give it out.
And it seems that there were parallels with Mr Burnel Snr and Sue's old man.... both were good in a fight as indeed was Grand-père Burnel too! Forget the Biffa Bacon family of Newcastle, enter the Biffa Burnels of Normandy!
Friday 10 November 2023
So I am a few pages shy of finishing JJ's book and read the chapter where he took it upon himself to be a champion, promoter and producer of French bands and French music. This lead me to dig out The Rat Zone presentation of the Seppuku demos from 1981.
Thursday 9 November 2023
Ok, before I get roundly abused, there is some cross over for at least some people who visit this site with the music of Tubeway Army and Gary Numan. In an attempt not to ruffle your raven feathers I have another blog that is focused on Numan. Should you be interested, there is a quite a few recordings here as well as a new thread planned to span the man's long career.
Link to the 'Listen to the Sirens' blog..... see 1978 Tubeway Army... John Lydon loved 'em and I'm told on good authority that Pete Shelley wanted to join them!
Here's an established tribute band, Rattus Inheritus, with a focus on Mk. 1 material.... although 'Skin Deep' and 'Always The Sun' sneak into the set. Thanks to the original Dime uploader,
As discussed last week on the 999 Facebook page there is a recording that features a song called 'People Who Died', that by all accounts is quite an obscure track. It did appear o a bootleg tape, one of a series of tapes of punk bands in London in the late 80's (?)/early '90's. As I recall they had something to do with Dave Ferguson (who I did buy this recording (as a tape) from back then in Fulham).
As mentioned by Nick in the recording, Pablo was local and The Swan was his local, which was probably the reason that 999 played there a few times in the early '90's. Here's a flyer from 1992 that also features some outfit called The Lurkers.
5th June 1992 is probably the date of this recording.
Of course the following year the band released 'You Us It' (the successor to 'Separates' in my opinion) and there were another handful of gig's at The Swan... those were happy times for me!
The sleeve artwork also makes reference to an interview conducted upstairs at The Swan on 20th November 1993. Whilst at a gig that both The Stranglers and 999 played at Fontwell Racecourse in '93, I was asked to interview the band for an article in Strangled, the fan publication published by The Stranglers Information Service (the interview transcript can be found here).
Monday 6 November 2023
This is the second time that our daughter has had the honour of playing in one of the most hallowed gig spaces in the UK... at least in my old eyes! However, she takes it all in her stride.
So, this then is the second London gig for Manchester based four piece, Ombudsmen. A planned date at the Dublin Castle fell victim to a planned rail strike earlier in the year. On this occasion I was gutted to be absent as work commitments had taken me to Copenhagen for the two days spanning this gig. The gig line up was the same as the Hope gig that took place in March of this year, the difference being that that gig was a matinee and this was an evening affair.
On this return date they have more product to promote, an E.P. CD entitled 'Terms & Conditions Apply' (available from https://ombudsmen.bandcamp.com/album/terms-conditions-apply ).
I did note this week that Kid Kapichi have adapted the same 'Neighbourhood Watch' logo for their new album, but Ombudsmen got there first. The adaptation was done by Mo Andrews and captures the band rather well, but then again I am a little biased in my view here!
'Terms & Conditions Apply' move the band ever forward from their first E.P. 'Fizzy Milk'. Both E.P.s are played in full in this Hope & Anchor set. Both of these E.P.s appear on Spotify too.
It is very difficult to apply labels to the band as they do not fit neatly into a defined genre, as much as a musical cliché as that may sound. There are elements of punk, electronica, funk, psychedelia and dare I say it... prog in their multi-layered tunes. The bass drives the songs whilst the guitar brings an urgency to the proceedings, a sound that compliments the vocals. Of the vocals, Mo's vocal styles vary across the set, I can hear Ari Up, a bit of Grace Slick on the somewhat psychedelic 'Yourself Is Everywhere' as well as a liberal measure of Lene Lovich.
The band play quite regularly in the Manchester area as well as further afield with recent gigs in Liverpool, Bradford and Nottingham. Hopefully, more London dates will come their way and hopefully, if that is the case, I can arrange my time better such that I am in the same country when they next play there.Anyway, here is the gig in full. Once again I am very indebted to Lee McFadden for sharing this recording. Cheers!
Sunday 5 November 2023
Here's a DVD compilation that I put together some years ago that features a collection of TV and live appearances from 1978 to 2007. Quality varies, but it's a nice collection. Anyone recall where 'Bomb You' came from or is it another of those tracks like 'People Who Died' and 'White Trash', songs that saw the light of day for the briefest of times?
DVD image: https://go.wetransfer.com/t-F3bWP0s7pr
Here's an interview with Hugh conducted by early supporter, Barry Cain from the UK music weekly Record Collector.
Many thanks to malcolm769 for the Dime version and to Mick for his remastering efforts. And thanks to Meanie for the artwork file.
FLAC (Dime 617 MB): https://go.wetransfer.com/t-TSWqDLSalR
All of those people who once said that punk was just a noise made by 'musicians' that couldn't play their instruments just weren't really listening, or were listening to some really bad bands... I remember an argument on the school bus with someone in the year above who believed that punk was just heavy metal played badly... Judas Priest anyone?
Buzzcocks did not just make a noise. Over the three albums that the band recorded during their first incarnation Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle wrote a soundtrack to the teenage condition. Shelley in particular was peerless in his ability to produce kitchen sink dramas in 3 minute episodes. What's more, he was 45 years ahead of his time in his writing. A man open about his bisexuality from the start, his songs were lyrically gender neutral by design... boy meets girl, boy meets boy, girl meets girl... you decide, it had no relevance in his songs.
The band first split up in 1981 after a gig in Hamburg (recorded for posterity in 'Auf Wiedersehen') when the members that were considered to be the 'classic line-up (Shelley, Diggle, Garvey and Maher), burned out by touring and bad rock 'n' roll habits went their separate ways. In 1989, that same line up reformed (much to my delight) for dates in the US and UK. Bolstered by a hugely positive reception, the band wrote and recorded new material in demo form. For a reason that I have never really understood, the planned 'comeback' album based on these demo recordings was binned. These demos, long in the hands of fans, only finally saw a release in the last couple of years. Some of those tracks, especially 'Dreaming' and 'Why Compromise?' were classic Buzzcocks tracks that amazingly did not make the final cut when the band did finally release an album of new material in 1993 when 'Trade Test Transmissions' was released. 'TTT' in my opinion is one of the finest 'comeback' album seeing Pete, still unlucky in love, recounting his further tales of angst and frustration. The album bears all the hallmarks of Buzzcocks, but with a nod towards the indie sound of the early nineties (again strongly influenced by another generation of Manchester guitar bands). More information on the 'Trade Test Transmissions' album can be found here.
In their second incarnation, Buzzcocks doubled their initial recorded output with the release of a further six studio albums and whilst for me, 'TTT' was the best, each of the subsequent albums contained at least some of the glittering poetic magic that was Pete Shelley's stock in trade.
Buzzcocks went on to have a second wind that lasted from 1989 to 2018 when Pete played his last gig with the band on 25th August 2018, a gig I feel privileged to have witnessed. Pete Shelley succumbed to a heart attack in Tallinn, Estonia on 6th December 2018. Steve Diggle has continued to play under the Buzzcocks banner with the band's last line-up less Pete.
Many thanks to the original Dime uploader (notsaved) of this great quality recording from New York in 1991 that brilliantly showcases the pre-split material as well as new songs from the 1991 demos.
02. I Don’t Mind
03. Love You More
05. Who’ll Help Me To Forget?
06. Alive Tonight
08. Never Gonna Give It Up
09. 16 Again
10. The Last To Know
14. Get On Our Own
15. Successful Street
16. Why Compromise?
17. Moving Away From The Pulsebeat
18. Everybody’s Happy Nowadays
01. Everybody’s Happy Nowadays (Cont)
04. When Love Turns Around
05. Mad Mad Judy
06. Harmony In My Head
07. What Do I Get?
09. Ever Fallen In Love With Someone (You Shouldn’t Have)?
10. Encore Break
12. Fast Cars
13. Noise Annoys
14. Orgasm Addict
Saturday 4 November 2023
Much like in the case of Dave, Jet and Pete Shelley, I am still struggling with the loss of Terry Hall.
Sunday 29 October 2023
I have been listening to a lot of TRB since seeing their recent support slot to The Undertones in Cambridge. Articulate and sound, now as then. Punk owed so much to this band.
Something of a rarity here, two very positive and complimentary reviews of a Stranglers gig, not only from Record Mirror, but also from the pages of the New Musical Express. It is a real shame that this one does not appear to be out there in the bootleg fossil record!
I take Mark Ellen's point about the venue. My first gigs were nearly all at the Brighton Centre (including The Stranglers) and it is the most awful, cavernous, soulless box of a venue.... but given the chance in 1978 I would have made the effort... but on a Saturday night in 1978 I would have been watching Basil Brush and waiting on 'The Generation Game'!
New Musical Express 27th May 1978
Stranglers step up the pace.
The last time I saw The Stranglers was at the Roundhouse in November. I was left with two impressions.
Firstly, they had subverted the performer/audience balance to the extent that it was the audience who were performing, the band merely acting as a catalyst.
And secondly, as I dragged out a friend with a broken ankle, that I was lucky to be alive.
They’d reached a stage where, apart from inciting more hysteria by deriding the crowd’s response, they didn’t have to work for an ecstatic reception.
The Stranglers now return to the circuit in a very different league, and it’s certainly hard to imagine playing a venue more soul-destroying than that clinical bunch of breeze-blocks, the Brighton Centre.
Everything was against them. There was nowhere near a 5,000 capacity crowd, no bar (imagine it!), and a sound mix that was knotting itself into sonic spaghetti and bouncing off the walls.
Coupled with this, any reaction from the audience was so deadened by the surroundings that the band probably thought they had the place to themselves.
After about three numbers, the distinctive Stranglers sound finally broke through.
The ceaseless twanging of Burnel’s bass and the caustic rasp of Cornwell’s guitar chords, offset by Dave Greenfield’s fluid, almost delicate keyboard fills, seemed more than usually aggressive, as if honed on a cheese-grater.
A more comprehensive exposure of the band’s material I couldn’t have wished for. Not only did they play almost every track off the “Rattus” album (“Sometimes” and “Hanging Around” being quite outstanding), but also a fair few from “No More Heroes”, before launching into the realms of the new LP “Black & White”.
Supposedly an album representing extremes, their horizons both musical and lyrical, are considerably broadened.
This was the first time that I’ve heard any of the material, and the only time I’ve seen The Stranglers use lighting to any real effect.
The songs were punctuated by ranks of white arc-lamps and air-raid spotlights, slightly lost in the vast cubic void of the Centre, but still suggesting something of the starkness of the lyrics.
Easiest to accept were “Sweden (All Quiet On The Eastern Front)”, “Do You Wanna” and “Death And Night And Blood (Yukio)”, because they conformed fairly closely to the standard Stranglers format of an incessant, balanced barrage of sound, swayed by keyboard and guitar breaks.
“Outside Tokyo” was radically different. Introduced by Cornwell’s precept. “Look at your watches and go to sleep”, it was a loping ans dischordant dirge, conspicuous by being so out of character with everything else.
“In The Shadows” was not a pleasant noise by any means. It consisted of echoed moans against a listless backing that was more like a reject sound-track from a Hammer movie, and wrecked the continuity of the set.
As for “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy”, any remaining doubts as to whether The Stranglers are macho-merchants, or as to whether they give a nubile’s butt that anyone cares, were swiftly dispersed by the appearance of a stripper. Within seconds she had whipped off the bulk of her mail-order lingerie, and embarked on a routine that would curdle milk.
The mammoth one and three-quarter hour set finally closed to the more familiar tune of “No More Heroes”, “Something Better Change” and “Five Minutes”.
If The Stranglers proved one thing it was that, although still trading on the sound they first hit on two years ago, they’ve got themselves to this level by producing enough musical variation within those limits.
They’re also back to working for a response.
The gig gave the impression they were starting all over again, but on a much larger scale – getting the audience to accept new material, cranking them up to react to it, and playing with all their old energy and determination.
THE STRANGLERS/ TANZ DER YOUTH
OPENING UP for Stranglers is never an easy task and on Saturday night at the Brighton Centre we were faced with Brian James's new outfit Tanz Der Youth, playing their first ever gig. There were several problems especially with the Stranglers biased audience, who didn't know what to expect and had to put up with a fairly rough sound system. Nevertheless, Tanz Der Youth were good, in fact I thought they were very good.
They played eight numbers with Brian on vocals / guitar alongside Tony Moor on keyboards/synthesiser, bassist Andy Colquhoun and ex-Hawkwind drummer Alan Powell. Brian tended to stick to rhythm guitar leaving the bulk of the solo work to Tony Moor's synthesiser although there were some fine guitar/synthesizer breaks.
The best numbers were 'Why I Die', 'I'm Sorry, I'm Sorry', introduced as a "cute little pop song", and the excellent 'Blue Lights Flashing'. Also included from the Damned days were 'New Rose' and a slowed down version of 'Neat, Neat, Neat'. In which you could actually hear the 't' s.
As for the Stranglers, this was the most complete performance I have seen them give, not only in presentation, effort and technique, but also in material, consisting of almost every number on their three albums. On stage for the best part of two hours, they commenced with a run through of a dozen songs from 'Rattus' ,and 'No More Heroes'.
Two spotlights were then beamed towards the audience as the 'Black and White' section began. Of the newer material, 'Death and Night and Blood'. 'Sweden' and 'Nice 'n' Sleazy' (with the accompaniment of a topless dancer wearing nothing else but a suspender belt and a knowledgeable smile) came over particularly well. However, it’s hard to single out individual numbers from a practically faultless set.
The climax of the evening came as the band played through ‘Grip’, ‘Something Better Change’, ‘No More Heroes’, ‘Five Minutes’ and ‘Sewer’, during which Jean Jacques Burnel leapt off the stage into the photographer’s pit to the delight of the south coast crowd.
Saturday 28 October 2023
Leo Morriss sent me a request yesterday. Like many of us he is swiftly turning the pages of the recently delivered JJ book. Within it a tale is told about a festival squabble between The Stranglers and The Cure over headlining. The Stranglers were indifferent and agreed to Fat Bob and Co. coming on last, a decision that the promoter overturned.
It seems as though the band's monitors were not connected properly so none of the four musicians on the stage could hear what each were playing, all were effectively playing blind. In JJ's recounting the band opened with 'Midnight Summer Dream' and not hearing the rest of the band came in to early with the bass part of 'European Female' upon which JJ smashed the useless monitor and departed the stage.
Today I listened to DomP's remastered version of this gig. It is clear throughout that the sound is all over the shop, 'MSD' does indeed fuck up and grinds to a halt before 'European Female' starts after a few moments of silence. That track then cuts from this recording. More problems can be heard at the end of London Lady when JJ continues playing after the rest of the band have finished the track. Finally, during the set closer, 'Down In The Sewer', Dave's keyboards are all at sea as is JJ's bass. It is at the end of this song when a mighty crash can be heard, presumably the sound of a live base hitting the stage with force. The crowd burst into surprised laughter that would be consistent with seeing a stage tantrum and a walk off. So there you have it, sadly there is no Nice-esque commentary on the issues at hand... just a lot of mistimed, bum notes and the final crash of a thrown bass.
Nice recording though... thanks DomP!
Tuesday 24 October 2023
Well this was the one that looked to be the event of the summer. Devo bowing out after a staggering 50 years as a band that has entertained and confounded in equal measure. Once describing themselves to Tony Wilson as 'the fluid in the punk enema bag' Devo, the boys in the high vis boiler suits, espoused the theory of De-evolution, a simple premise that rather than evolving as a species, human-kind was doing the exact opposite and becoming less organised and increasingly dysfunctional (switch on any new programme today and you may be inclined to agree with them).
So, this was my first (and last) time of seeing Devo and I was exited at the prospect, something rather rare for me and gigs these days. We headed to the Duke of Cornwall pub just around the corner from the Eventim Apollo (Hammersmith Odeon to anyone over the age of 50) where I was amused to see, and not in the least bit surprised to see, a throng of people sporting energy domes. I was even more amused when a couple walked past the pub in the direction of the venue wearing improvised yellow boiler suits topped of with 'budget energy domes' courtesy of the garden section of Home Base... actually plant pots.... absolutely brilliant.
As we entered the art deco auditorium a lone man could be seen with a couple of turntables in the middle of the expansive stage. That was Rusty Egan, formerly of The Rich Kids and Visage who was trawling through some electronic hits of the early 1980's.
With Rusty gone, Rod Rooter, the band's music executive creation introduced the band to the stage from a huge cinematic backdrop, that promised something akin to a Kraftwerk gig but with guitars!
Opening with 'Don't Shoot (I'm A Man) from 2010's 'Something For Everybody', the band's last studio album, the audience were soon into more familiar territory with the likes of 'Going Under'. Girl U Want' and 'Whip It'. The visual accompaniment to the music was as stunning as it was garish.... Total Devo! Of course the band went through their repertoire of images, from the 'Whip It' outfit to the 'Are We Not Men?' yellow Hazmat get up!
Halfway through the set they delivered the Holy trinity of 'Are We Not Men?' tracks, 'Uncontrollable Urge', 'Mongoloid' and 'Jocko Homo' at which point I was pretty much in spud heaven!
It was in fact pretty much a greatest hits set but such a stylish way to bow out. Proceedings were wrapped up by Booji Boy's rendition of 'Beautiful World' and just for 90 minutes within the walls of the Hammersmith Odeon it was... even if Devo didn't mean it!
My only disappointment of the night was that by the time I left the pub for the gig the merch stand had sold out of energy domes and I so wanted one, although where on earth you could wear one, if not at a Devo gig, I have yet to fathom!
Thank you Devo, for daring to be different!