The Stranglers Newcastle City Hall 12th Feb 1983 and 18th Feb 1985

The Stranglers Newcastle City Hall 1983 and 1985
stranglesr83The Stranglers were back at the City Hall again in 1983 for the “Feline” tour and in 1985 for the “Aural Sculpture” tour.
“Feline” was the Sranglers’ seventh album and was released in January 1983. It did better than their previous album, “La Folie”, reaching No. 4 in the UK Albums Chart. “Feline” produced three singles, the best known of which is “European Female” which reached No. 9 in the UK singles chart in January 1983.
“Aural Sculpture” was the Stranglers eighth album and reached No. 14 in the UK album chart in November 1984. Three singles were released from the album: “Skin Deep” (No. 15 in the UK Singles Chart), “No Mercy” (No. 37) and “Let Me Down Easy” (No. 48).
stranglersferlineAlthough I still enjoyed both of these gigs, the material that they played live was becoming less and less familiar, and I must admit to finding some of the newer songs quite hard going at times. I particularly remember wondering whether to go to the 1985 concert at all, and deciding to do so at the last minute for “old times sake” and partly out of curiosity. I went along late and paid at the door, and found the City Hall far from full; a very different scenario to Stranglers gigs in the late 70s and early 80s. I remember being quite surprised to find the band accompanied by a brass section (now come on, what’s all about? Punk and brass?!). I was also intrigued by the large ear backdrop hanging behind the band.
Here is one guy’s memory which I found as part of a review of the “Aural Sculpture” album: “I remember going to the “Aural Sculpture” tour at the Preston Guild Hall… What was different was the addition of a brass section in the top left hand corner of the stage. When I bought the “Aural Sculpture” LP it came with a free single it was a long poem which ended with Hugh declaring “now i give you aural sculpture” [the single actually came free with the “Feline” lp. stranglers85It is called the “Aural Sculpture Manifesto” and it was played before The Stranglers appeared on stage during concerts on both the 1983 “Feline” Tour and the 1985 “Aural Sculpture” Tour]…….I remember Hugh was wearing a long black leather coat and shades; all black of course.”
I must admit that I was beginning to lose faith in the band at this time, as I I did with many other bands of the period. Looking back I regret giving up on going to see many of those bands. At the time I was just getting tired of hearing a band play “the new album”; I wanted to hear the old songs…I know, perhaps I should have invested more time in listening to new material from those bands, but the truth was in many cases the new stuff just didn’t cut he mustard compared to the songs which made the band famous in the first place. stranglersauralMany of the bands from those days are now back, reformed (or in some cases, including the Stranglers, they never went away), playing again, usually with a slightly different line-up. In all cases they are now returning to their back catalogue and playing the old classic songs again.
For me the Stranglers were at their peak in those early days of punk, playing those classic singles and tracks from their first couple of albums. There was a craziness, an air of danger, and an excitement about those gigs, which can never be recreated. The Stranglers were never the coolest of bands, and they were never fully accepted by the punk community, or the much press, in the same way the Pistols or the Clash were, but they had great tunes, throbbing bass, swirling organ, and an attitude about them that you just couldn’t ignore. And their legacy is an amazing number of excellent songs and many, many hit singles and albums over a long career which is still going continuing.
Happy days.
A few years after the 1985 tour Hugh Cornwell left the band, and it was around 20 years until I went to see them again in concert. I’ll write about that gig tomorrow.

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