Gig preview: The Stranglers, 02 Academy, Leeds

The Stranglers
The Stranglers
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It wouold seem it has now become a firm tradition that The Stranglers tour the UK during March, and this year is no exception as they take their ‘Feel It Live’ tour on the road.

The band that gave us No More Heroes, Golden Brown, Peaches and Duchess is once again taking their music to their many fans.

Formed in 1974 and emerging from the pub-rock scene, the band somehow got lumped in with the punk movement, although they always insist that they were never a punk band.

Of course, they courted controversy and were even arrested in Nice in a chapter of the band’s history immortalised in the song Nice in Nice and drummer Jet Black’s book Much Ado About Nothing.

They have since become respected elder statesmen of the music scene and whilst they have many laurels they can rest upon, they still have things to say.

Their recent albums Norfolk Coast, Suite XVI and last years’ Giants have been widely recognised as amongst the very best of the band’s considerable output.

Founder member and bassist JJ Burnel says the band is pleased about the reception to Giants.

“It’s the best received Stranglers album ever,” he says.

“And I heard today that it, along with Norfolk Coast and Suite XVI, is going to be released in the States.”

The album was released a year ago, but JJ tells me that it won’t feature too much in the tour set.

“No, not so much really. We’ve been reacquainting ourselves with some songs we haven’t played for years and some stuff that Baz hasn’t done before.”

The ‘Baz’ in question is guitarist and co-lead vocalist (with JJ) of the band, Baz Warne; who along with drummer Jet Black and keyboard player Dave Greenfield, make up the band,

JJ continues, “We’ll be doing songs from most of the albums, even stuff from way back, at the moment we’re rehearsing like crazy.”

The Stranglers’ fans are amongst the most loyal in music and their gigs are usually sold out weeks in advance, maintaining the band’s popularity which JJ puts down to “not playing anything by the rules.”

One slight cause for concern these days is the health of drummer Jet Black.

“Yeah, he’s had a few health problems in recent years, but he’s really up for the tour, although he probably won’t be at every gig, or doing the full set.”

“We’ve been saying that this would be the last tour of this line-up for years, but the line-up will be the same until death do us part.”

“We do take things on a day to day basis and we never take him abroad these days – however, I suspect he wants to die onstage,” he laughs.

Next year sees the 40th anniversary of the formation of the band and they have already started talking about how they are going to go about celebrating the fact.

“We’re throwing some ideas about,” JJ explains.

“If Jet manages it, that will be something to celebrate,” he jokes. “We are doing a film, a bit of cinema verite and the plan is to enter it into a film festival. Also, we are wondering whether to do a tour or a big convention.”

And there is also the chance of a new album.

“That’s right, we’ve started putting songs together.”

But, it’s on the live stage that The Stranglers are at their very best.

A set of no-nonsense rock, played with an attitude that has seen the band through thick and thin – and no small amount of musicianship.

JJ sums it up by saying, “Because of the years we’ve done, we have developed an affinity with many places around the country, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham… you name the place.”

The Stranglers will be appearing at the O2 Academy, Leeds on Saturday March 9. Tickets are available from the Box Office and all the usual agencies.