Battling through a huge crowd, I made my way to a corner of Fibbers where I could just about view the stage. Baz Warne, (frontman/singer/guitarist) claims in his interview with Nouse about wanting to not be a nostalgia act, but the demographic would beg to differ. It was the one night in the history of Fibbers that this sticky-floored club is rammed with middle-aged Stranglers fans, sporting their best band t-shirts, singing, arms around each other, swaying. The only evidence I could see of it not being a nostalgia act was a handful of disposable camera clutching hipsters waiting for ‘Peaches’ to be played and then moving briskly on to a different venue.
Despite the demographic, the music itself was powerful and packed a punch. David Greenfield (keyboard) goes off on improvised electro ramblings, with the band playing long extended sections without lyrics, with guitar and sounds building. After a few songs having been played, Warne greets the crowd in his Mackem accent: “Well isn’t this nice. Look at your smiling faces.” He butters up the crowd with: “this is quite an honour you know”, before launching into ‘Nice ‘N’ Sleazy’. The legendary JJ Brunel pounds the bass, with Warne’s agile guitar floating over the occasional spoken lyric.
The band still produce a well rehearsed, fresh sound, with scratchy, distorted effects often filling the room for several bars at a time. They effortlessly plunge into ‘Golden Brown’ half way through the set, which sounds perfectly like the recording.
Storming their way through song after song, classic after classic, with only the occasional injection from Warne, the crowd seem delighted. The band move onto newer tracks like ‘Norfolk Coast’, which are still delivered with the same amount of pizzazz as the older tracks.
Then there is a sharp turn back to old favourites – ‘Peaches’ charms the crowd. The spoken lyrics over the incredibly iconic bass and guitar solid chords overwhelm the room and create a stir. Cheers and shouts emerge from the enchanted audience at the twanging guitar and the rich sound of the organ playing the opening few bars of ‘Hanging Around’.
The set list is a solid mix of old and new; condensing the amount of material The Stranglers have produced over 40 years into an hour and a half long set is a challenge (as Warne discusses in his interview), but they evidently achieve this. They triumphantly end with an encore of ‘No More Heroes’. A fantastic performance delivered by a band that has matured well over the years.