Reviews

The Stranglers at Shepherds Bush Empire, London  10/12/04

“So here we all were, the 60th gig of 2004….the last night of a tour that has taken us from the wilds of England to the eccentric nightlife of Iceland (or is that the other way round?), from Sydney Australia to Toronto in Canada, to Belgium, France and Germany. It has been quite simply an amazing year for our beloved band.
One of, if not the best ever.”

These were the thoughts running through my head as the lights dimmed and the opening throbs of ‘WaltzinBlack’ started to pummel my eardrums. I gazed down from my perch on level one at the sea of heads flowing to and fro in time to the legendary instrumental, and I was filled with a great sense of pride.

As the band took to the stage, to the customary roar of the crowd, I waited with bated breath for the opening keyboard swirl and heavy bass of ‘Norfolk Coast’ which has opened every show during this momentous tour. But no, not tonight! Tonight we are treated to the marvels of ‘Time To Die’ – a track we have not heard live for some 10 years (that’s right… 10 years!). ‘Big Thing Coming’ and ‘Skin Deep’ followed and, just as the set appeared to be settling into its usual format, up popped ‘Golden Boy’ which went down a storm.

Maybe it was the fact that it was the last night, maybe it was the pure enthusiasm of the crowd, or maybe it was just Paul’s hair, whatever the reason, there was a real buzz about the place tonight and it seemed to reflect on the band too as they seemed to be really up for it. Every track seemed to be played with an extra punch, none more so than when ‘Toiler’ made it’s long overdue return. Baz went at it like a rabbit on heat. It was almost like hearing the original album track again – so much better than the slower versions for the early 90’s. It was a cracking rendering and for me personally, the highlight of the show. The crowd appeared to love it too as it received one of the biggest cheers of the night.

Oh, and what a night!

Jet was cool at the back alongside Dave who was reliable as ever. Baz was at his very best and JJ was just flowing … he even managed a smile or two!
Whilst up front, Paul was as energetic and as entertaining as ever.
Not even a buggered speaker (which lost Dave’s keyboards during ‘Golden Brown’) and shorted reverb unit could dispel what was one hell of a show. The evening was made even more poignant through JJ’s speech toward the end. He thanked everyone involved with the great year that the band have had, and all the support they’ve had from us – the fans. I think it has even taken them somewhat by surprise.
I didn’t want it to end …. Nobody wanted it to end …. I don’t think the band even wanted it to end, as the final strains of ‘Heroes’ went on & on for what felt ages before that final drum beat fell.

I am continuously left gob smacked at how great these guys are live. They are undoubtedly one of the most underrated bands in this country. Even when they’re bad, they’re good. When they’re on form, they rock your socks off. Tonight – they were simply awesome.

The song states there are ‘No More Heroes Anymore…’
Bollocks! There were five of them up on that stage tonight!
Long may they reign.


Setlist:

Time To Die, Big Thing Coming, Skin Deep, Peaches, Golden Boy, I Don't Agree, All Day And All Of The Night, Always The Sun, Long Black Veil, Golden Brown, Toiler On The Sea, Nuclear Device, Lost Control, Who Wants The World, I've Been Wild, Grip, Something Better Change, Tank

1st encore: Norfolk Coast, Walk On By

2nd encore: 5 Minutes, Duchess

3rd encore: Mine All Mine, No More Heroes

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