The Stranglers @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 21st February 2022

0

The Stranglers finally stopped off at Birmingham’s O2 Academy as part of their much-delayed Final Full Tour. Following the sad passing of Dave Greenfield in May 2020 the title now includes In Memory of Dave, and although the show was mostly an up-tempo celebration of the past 40-odd years there were also moments of poignant reflection. With Jet Black’s retirement in 2018, bassist JJ Burnel has been left as the last man standing from the original line-up, albeit guitarist and co-singer Baz Warne has been there since 2000. Greenfield’s place on keyboards is taken by Toby Hounsham, who it should be noted did a tremendous job, and the drum stool is occupied by Jim Macaulay who became an official member in 2016.

The Stranglers

Walking on stage as usual to Waltzinblack, they launched into ‘Toiler on the Sea’ which served as the starting point for two hours of classic Stranglers that went back all the way to 1977’s Rattus Norvegicus and encompassed the majority of their hits along with deep cuts and more recent material. Baz had the crowd on side from the very first song, keeping between song banter brief and to the point as they preferred to let rip with ‘Skin Deep’, ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’ and ‘Peaches’. The more tender and melodic moments of the back catalogue, ‘Strange Little Girl’, ‘Always the Sun’ and ‘Golden Brown’, are played mid-show and allowed band and audience time to catch their breath.

The Stranglers

Lockdown gave the Stranglers the opportunity to complete album number eighteen, Dark Matters, which took them back into the Top 10 for the first time since 1990 and showed they can still write a great song or two. Unsurprisingly it was well represented in the set list, from the vitriolic ‘Water’ to the throbbing bass of ‘White Stallion’ and the cinematic soundscapes of ‘The Last Men on the Moon’. Dark Matters also providing the acoustic first encore of ‘The Lines’ and ‘And if You Should See Dave…’, which served as a fitting tribute to their absent band mate. Of course, they returned for one final fling through ‘Go Buddy Go’ and ‘No More Heroes’ before waving farewell to Birmingham for what might well be the final time. On this evidence, they are going out at the top of their game.

Setlist:-

Intro – Waltzinblack
Toiler on the Sea
Something Better Change
Sometimes
Water
Skin Deep
This Song
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
Don’t Bring Harry
Strange Little Girl
Always the Sun
Peaches
Golden Brown
The Last Men on the Moon
(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)
Curfew
White Stallion
Nuclear Device (The Wizard of Aus)
Relentless
Walk On By
Straighten Out
Duchess
Hanging Around

Encore:
The Lines
And If You Should See Dave…

Encore 2:
Go Buddy Go
No More Heroes