It’s March, so for punk fans that can only mean one thing, party time. Along with the traditional tour by Stiff Little Fingers, there is also the just-as-traditional March tour from The Stranglers. Two bands on the go for decades now, still pulling in the crowds, still laying down a marker for any aspiring bands that think they can knock them off their perch. Tonight, it was the turn of The Stranglers to flick the ‘on’ switch of their jukebox, but before they took the crowd by the scruff of their necks, it was down to The Ruts DC to kick the evening off.
The punk/dub/rock hybrid might only have been around in the current form of Ruts DC for a handful of years, but their legacy stretches back to the late seventies, and the venue is jam-packed as they take to the stage. The crowd are up for it as soon as the lights dim, it is Saturday night after all, so it would be rude not to. ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’, ‘In A Rut’, ‘Jah War’ and ‘West One’ are all greeted like long lost friends, while ‘Babylon’s Burning’ sees the roof getting lifted off. With the release of ‘Music Must Destroy’ last year, Ruts DC proved that they still had something to say, and it’s pleasing to see a healthy amount of material from it aired tonight. ‘Psychic Attack’, ‘Kill The Pain’ and the massive title track, all sound fresh and relevant in today’s current climate. If you are catching this tour on one of the forthcoming dates, then get your arse out of the bar and check these guys out. Very rewarding.
A capacity crowd lay in wait for JJ Burnell, Dave Greenfield, Baz Warne, and touring drummer Jim MacAuley. A rowdy as hell capacity crowd would be an understatement. But like I said earlier, it is a Saturday night, so when ‘The Raven’ kicks off a two hour trip down memory lane, the crowd erupts. As they will be playing some deep cuts on this tour, the band have requested via their facebook page that no setlist spoilers are leaked. Fair to say, there were songs aired that did not feature on the last few tours. Yes, you’ll get setlist staples such as ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’ (which sets off a frenzy of crowd surfers), ‘Walk On By’, ‘Peaches’ and the always incredible ‘(Get A) Grip (On Yourself), but the deeper cuts are the ones that get grown men crying tears of joy and hugging strangers. “I haven’t heard this one in years..” seems to be a popular phrase as the penny drops when anything out of the ordinary starts up. Fans from day one are beaming from ear to ear. The stage set up is very visual, simple but effective, loads of spotlights and both drummer MacAuley and Dave Greenfield on the keyboards are perched up high for all to see. It’s always enjoyable watching a drummer in action, and tonight it’s made all the more easier. It’s also easy to see Greenfield necking a pint in one go during his solo on ‘No More Heroes’, and men supposedly cannot multi-task! There are a few technical issues along the way, and Baz is having a bit of a mare with his mic stand forcing one of the crew on stage to sort it out. Baz keeps going with the song the best he can, all the while playing with the roadies hair, much to the crowd’s amusement. Likewise, when JJ comes out for the encore bare chested, he gets a massive roar of approval. Sometime’s it’s the simplest things in life that make us smile the most!
Encore wise, it’s a belter. I’m not giving much away by saying that ‘Go Buddy Go’ and ‘No More Heroes’ have the place bouncing, the pints flying, and the words “Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky?” being screamed out at full pelt by all in attendance. An incredible way to end a memorable evening. The Stranglers ‘Classic Collection’ tour runs through to April 1st, no fucking joke though.
Images – Dave Jamieson
Review – Dave Stott