Archive for the ‘Ruts DC’ Category

The Stranglers Newcastle City Hall 18 February 2022

strangstixWell here I am. Back at the City Hall with The Stranglers. So many memories. Happy days again, yet tinged with mixed emotions, some of elation, some of sadness. So many different perspectives: the venue, the band, myself, family. I will explain each of these below.

The Venue. Newcastle City Hall is almost like a second home to me. I have seen so many concerts there; probably several hundred, maybe over 1000. My first was back in early 1971 when I saw Iron Butterfly supported by Yes and Dada (who included the late, sadly missed, superb vocalist Robert Palmer and Elkie STRANG4Brooks who, of course, went on to much greater success in Vinegar Joe, again with Robert Palmer, and as a soloist). Soon I saw the Rolling Stones there, a few weeks later, and then many more bands over the years including Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen, and many, many more over a 50+ year period. For the first time they had somehow managed to remove all of the seats from the downstairs area, allowing a massive crowd of Stranglers fans to jump around and have fun to the music. It was very strange, yet refreshing, to be part of a very different experience in a very differently configured City Hall.

The Band. This is The Stranglers Final Full UK Tour. The tour has been postponed for some time partly due to Covid and partly because of the sad passing of founder member Dave Greenfield; he of the great swirling, driving keyboards that underpinned, and led, all of those Stranglers classics. At one point the STRANG2tour was almost cancelled but fan demand persuaded the members to continue in tribute to Dave Greenfield’s massive contribution to the band and their music. Only Jean-Jacques Burnel remains from the original lineup. Drummer Jet Black retired some years ago. Lead singer and songwriter Hugh Cornwell left many years ago, and after a few line-up changes including one with both a vocalist and a guitarist, his position is filled by local Sunderland lad Baz Warne with Baz taking over vocal and guitar duties and becoming the band’s main front man. The Stranglers were the first punk band to play Newcastle City Hall in 1977, a concert which I attended and was absolutely stupendous. Later in 1977 they returned and after some altercations between Hugh, Jean-Jacques and the bouncers which ended up in a massive stage invasion The Stranglers were banned from the City Hall for a number of years. But the soul of the band remains as does the power of the music. Nothing is diminished, we are overwhelmed by a constant barrage of classic songs: right back to the start with “Grip” and “Peaches”, through the massive hits “Sweet Little Girl” and “Golden Brown” and many, many more along the way. This is The Stranglers at their best and just as I remember them from the many times I have seen them over the years. If this was to be the last time I experience this band, it couldn’t be any better. Jean-Jacques is a joy to see, quietly leading the band, his bass playing as booming and driving as ever. Baz has a bit fun with the Newcastle crowd, in terms of the Geordies/Makem rivalry. There are lots of encores and lots of dancing and moshing down at the front. For the first encore Jean-Jacques and Baz return as an acoustic duo and treat us to a couple of beautiful, more subdued, songs. The pace and volume then return for the second encore and the band finish, triumphant. The crowd go home overjoyed at the experience.

Myself. Even after a few years in a wheelchair I am still getting used to the experience of being different to, and separate from, the majority of the crowd. However there are some benefits. I am sitting with my carer and my sister-in-law (more of this below) perched on a disabled ramp up above the crowd, with a STRANG3great view over the heads of the jumping, swirling, moshing, crazy crowd below us.

Family. In 1977 I was accompanied to the Stranglers concert by my late wife, Marie. We took along her sister, now my sister-in-law, Elaine. Elaine was at the time a young teenager, excited by the new music known as punk. She is now one of my carers, but on this occasion came along to see The Stranglers as my guest. This was the first time she had seen them since that concert back in 1977. So 45 years later she was experiencing The Stranglers again. Her verdict was that they were just as good as they were “back in the day”! Having Elaine with me again, brought back lots of memories and mixed emotions. It is strange the twists and turns one experiences in one’s life.

I must not forget to give credit to the support act, Ruts DC; who are basically The Ruts without their sadly departed singer. We arrived late, but in time to see them perform their hit songs “I’m in a Rut” and RUTTS“Babylon’s Burning”. Both of these were very credible versions and it was great to hear them again.

So, to summarise. A night of very mixed emotions but overall one I greatly enjoyed. The last time I saw The Stranglers was in a muddy field at Glastonbury, once again with my late wife Marie. This time was probably the last, but was another excellent experience. Overall a happy night.

Many thanks to my carer Jackie for taking the photographs and doing a great job too.

Setlist: 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; Relentless; Nuclear Device (The Wizard of Aus); Walk On By; Straighten Out; Duchess; Hanging Around

Encore: The Lines; And If You Should See Dave…

Encore 2: Theme From Get Carter; Tank; No More Heroes

The Damned Newcastle Academy 8th December 2013

The Damned Newcastle Academy 8th December 2013
ThedamnedblackalbumLast night I continued in my attempts to relive my lost youth by going to see punk goth legends The Damned at Newcastle Academy. I last saw The Damned in concert in the late 80s, and I have been meaning to catch up with them for the last few years, but for one reason or another, I haven’t managed to do so. I was a big fan of this band back in the day. There was a sense of chaos, fun and theatre to a Damned gig; they were always quite different to the rest of the punk bands of the time. Their music blends rock’n’roll, punk, goth and psychedelia, and you can always be sure that Captian Sensible will be crazy and outrageous, which guarantees a fun night out for all. The line up of The Damned has changed many times over the years; the two remaining members are the Captain on guitar and vocalist Dave Vanium.
I arrived just in time to catch the end of support act The Ruts DC, who closed their set with the old favourite “In a Rut”. The Ruts are old mates of the Damned from the punk era; I particularly remember a manic Ruts gig at Durham Dunelm House where the Damned joined them on stage to much mayhem both onstage and off. The Damned came on stage around 9.10pm, Dave Vanium looking as cool as ever in his black Dracula / undertaker garb; this guy was goth before goth. First song was the eerie and dark Sanctum Sanctum. The set consisted of songs drawn from across their 10 albums, focusing mainly on that classic 70s and 80s period. The last few songs were pure classic punk nostalgia: Love Song; Second Time Around; I Just Can’t Be Happy Today; New Rose (“Is she really going out with him”) and closer Neat Neat Neat; they took me right back, and sounded just as good at they did when I first heard them. Their cover of “Eloise” was good to hear, as always. Its one of my favourite songs from the 60s; full of drama, passion and pathos. The Damned must have similar musical tastes to my own, they have covered quite a few songs which I consider to be classics; I am thinking of “Eloise”, Love’s “Alone Again Or” and Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”. The Captain seemed to be in a jolly mood, if a little reserved, he did explain that they had all been suffering from colds. I resisted the temptation of buying a Captain Kit, complete with red beret and round sunglasses, and a bargain at £10, with a signed (and quite obscene) Christmas card thrown in. I figured I probably wouldn’t suit the beret :). Great to see the old ones are still out there doing in, and doing so in style and with panache. Great stuff.
Setlist: Sanctum Sanctorum; Don’t Cry Wolf; Wait for the Blackout; Lively Arts; Silly Kids Games; History of the World; Ignite; Generals; Stranger on the Town; Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde; Plan 9 Channel 7; Eloise; Love Song; Second Time Around; I Just Can’t Be Happy Today; New Rose; Neat Neat Neat. Encore: To my shame I left at this point as I had promised to collect Laura (Apologies to Dave and the Captain). I bet they played Smash It Up and one or two others.