The Stranglers @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 17 March 2018


Who needs heroes anyway?

Words by Jason Guest

The Stranglers’ strength has and always will be is that you never knew what to expect from them. Play someone unfamiliar with the band, for instance, ‘Golden Brown’ followed by ‘Something Better Change’, ‘Peaches’ and then their cover of Dionne Warwick’s ‘Walk On By’ and chances are they’d think it was four different bands – and four very good bands at that. And so here we are in Birmingham, over 40 years into their career with an audience that looks, for the most part anyway, like they’ve been with them since the early days. And with 23 songs that span their entire career, the band could probably pick any number of tracks from their impressive oeuvre and no one would be disappointed.

The Stranglers

Their four massive mugs projected large onto the backdrop, The Stranglers stroll on to the cheeky intro of ‘Waltzinblack’ and much applause.With opener ‘(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)’, The Stranglers get a grip on the crowd straight away (yeah, I know; sorry). And not once do they let go. And not once does this crowd stop moving. The O2 Academy is a sea of bobbing heads, bopping bodies and we-know-every-word flapping lips as ‘15 Steps’, ‘Bear Cage’, ‘Nuclear Device’ and ‘Norfolk Coast’ fills the room with an unabating energy. ‘tis true that we can think of a lot worse places to be, but of course, with ‘Peaches’, we know where we want to be…

Of course, the band is as tight and powerful as the light show is phenomenal and their set list is greatest hit after greatest hit and then some. Only the triple hit of ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Always The Sun’ and their cover of Dionne Warwick’s ‘Walk On By’ can lift the energy even higher.  From ‘Water’, through ‘Duchess’, ‘Just Like Nothing On Earth’, Hanging Around’, the much misunderstood anti-racist ‘I Feel Like A Wog’, and set closer ‘Tank’, The Stranglers deliver a set that few if any could better. And with ‘Go Buddy Go’ and the classic ‘No More Heroes’ as encores, The Stranglers prove themselves the timeless antiheroes once more.

Set list:

  1. Intro: Waltzinblack
  2. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
  3. 15 Steps
  4. Bear Cage
  5. Nuclear Device (The Wizard Of Aus)
  6. Norfolk Coast
  7. Peaches
  8. Relentless
  9. Don’t Bring Harry
  10. Golden Brown
  11. Always The Sun
  12. Walk On By (Dionne Warwick Cover)
  13. Water
  14. Something Better Change
  15. Duchess
  16. Time Was Once On My Side
  17. Just Like Nothing On Earth
  18. Hanging Around
  19. Freedom Is Insane
  20. I Feel Like A Wog
  21. London Lady
  22. Tank


  1. Go Buddy Go
  2. No More Heroes
  3. Outro: Meninblack


The Stranglers UK 2018