THE STRANGLERS and RUTS DC: LIVE – BRIGHTON DOME 17.02.2022
The Stranglers and guests RUTS DC live in Brighton. Gig Review. A great night showing both bands bands continue to light up the music world.
The Stranglers are an English rock band who emerged via the punk rock scene. Scoring 23 UK Top 40 singles and 19 UK Top 40 albums to date in a career spanning five decades. The Stranglers are one of the longest-surviving bands to have originated in the UK punk scene.
Formed as the Guildford Stranglers in Guildford, Surrey, in early 1974, they originally built a following within the mid-1970s pub rock scene, which Jean-Jacques Burnel reminded us of during the gig tonight. While their aggressive, no-compromise attitude had them identified by the media with the emerging UK punk rock scene that followed, their idiosyncratic approach rarely followed any single musical genre, and the group went on to explore a variety of musical styles, from new wave, art rock and gothic rock through the sophisti-pop of some of their 1980s output.
Sadly, the death of keyboard player, Dave Greenfield in May 2020 may have played a factor in bringing this amazing journey to an end. The Final Full Tour was originally announced in January 2020 after two reschedules, was now here in Brighton at The Dome. The guys had decided to play the tour in Daves memory and they also released the well received album Dark Matters which they all had taken part in the recording. Toby Hounsham on the keys had clearly planned to honour him in style this evening. His playing was spot on – great job Toby. Thats got to have been a tough thing to do. Respect.
The Stranglers have been selling out venues and packing in the crowds for about 45 years! Tonight is no exception, as the The Dome in Brighton looked to have been pretty much sold out. The magic of this band meant young and old alike were packed in tight on the floor, with only a couple of seats vacant. The organ chords for Waltzinblack floods through the auditorium speaker system, heralding The Stranglers arrival. The Stranglers take to the stage in their usual stage positions, they were greeted by the full blown force of rapturous applause and cheers from the Brighton crowd…
Toiler On The Sea – Something Better Change – Sometimes – Water (from new album Dark Matters) – Skin Deep.
We were treated to a somewhat poignant blast of the classic Something Better Change. This track did the trick and set the mood for the rest of the evening, so good to see the crowd jostling into a frenzy so early on. After lockdown we bloody needed that!
The set-list tonight included all their top singles, including Go Buddy Go, and album tracks from the start, from Rattus Norvegicus released in 1977, and rounding up with content from bands eighteenth album Dark Matters from 2021.
I had been lucky to “tour” with The Stranglers as I was photo’ing The Rezillos on that tour. And did spend some time with the guys back stage at Oxford. Trying to talk to the guys whilst Jim Macaulay was warming up with his sticks on his legs was somewhat distracting! I recall some fella walked through back stage announcing to the guys that had seen the band when he was 13! This was the first time I had a chance to photo The Stranglers, and I was loving it!
Lead vocals and guitars are supplied by Baz Warne. He joined the band when John Ellis left in 2000 and took over joint lead vocals with JJB when Paul left in 2006. And I have to say what a damn good job he does of it.
This Song Will Get Me Over You – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy – Don’t Bring Harry – Strange Little Girl – Always The Sun…
There were a few less high kicks from JJB this time around, but it was a joy to see him smiling as the set pounded along. The guys seemed to be enjoying the set. I have to say, it seemed to be the music doing the talking tonight as the mixed age audience danced, sang, thumped the air and pogoed together!
Peaches – Golden Brown – The Last Men On The Moon – Get A Grip On Yourself – Curfew
There is very little small-talk introductions to the song, they crash straight into a back-to-back run of all-time favourites and classics.
The moody bass from the bass master JJB for Peaches piles into the crowd with a delicious swagger. And there is nothing quite like the lighting of the large mirror ball hanging from The Dome ceiling during Golden Brown.
The sound tonight was excellent with those swirling keyboard whirls, stunning guitar chords and riffs, and then those omnipresent snarling bass lines working with some remarkable fills and patterns from the drum kit. This sound triggers a lot of memories for the crowd and me! Baz Warne has always seemed to have slotted into the line-up, after all it was some twenty-two years ago! He has had the time to hone the look and sound. Tonight he was firing on all cylinders and swapping banter with the band and the crowd. Drummer Jim Macaulay has earned his slot in the band, after joining in 2016. It was a shame that he and Toby were set so far back on the stage mainly lost in the smoke and also due to the height of the risers they were using.
White Stallion – Nuclear Device – Relentless – Walk On By – Straighten Out – Duchess
Watching The Stranglers in 2022 is as entertaining as it always has been. The crowd was lapping up the audio goodness. This may, after all, be the final tour from The Stranglers. I think I am quite safe in stating that in JJ Burnel The Stranglers have possibly one of the most recognisable bass players in music/punk history and he has that unmistakable swagger to go with it. He does it Nice and Sleazy every time.
Hanging Around – unplugged/accoustic = The Lines – And If You Should See Dave
The guys hit us hard with Hanging Around and the band left the stage. The lights dimmed as JJB and Baz returned to perform two songs. Both songs from the new album. This show and tour was in memory of Dave and both musicians covered this and JJB clearly emotional as he described their friendship and how he missed his band mate. The crowd put up a heartfelt extended round of applause for Dave G.
For the finale first off it’s Go Buddy Go, a song JJB wrote before any of their 17 albums were released and it ends the set triumphantly. It was part of the double A side single release paired with Peaches. This was a set highlight for me, a firm punk favourite and an absolute banger of a tune.
ENCORE: Go Buddy Go – No More Heroes
Its been a tumultuous and sad time for The Stranglers. The legendary band having released one of their best albums in recent times, Dark Matters but having lost their own key maestro Dave Greenfield during its recording. But they were here tonight. Closing the set firstly with Go Buddy Go. JJB ascended a lit staircase between the risers on stage and smacked out the opening riff, it was time for this one, one of their biggest hit No More Heroes. Golden Brown was their biggest hit!
We danced, we sang, we remembered, we cried. JJ Burnel remains the last man standing of the original and classic line-up. The passing of Mr Greenfield without a doubt was devastating for the band. They were friends. I have to say the reception given to Toby Hounsham from the crowd and the band was well deserved. It truly reflected those skills on the keys on display and also the appreciation of their departed friend. They have proved on this tour, that maybe that fire in their souls and hearts may see them tread the stages again. Time will tell I guess.
Thanks and well played to The Stranglers – you aced it!!
Supporting The Stranglers on this tour were Ruts DC, and they warmed the crowd up perfectly, playing a great selection of tracks in a fairly short set including Staring at the Rude Boys and their big hit from back in the day Babylons Burning.
The Ruts, now known as Ruts DC are an English reggae-influenced punk rock band, notable for the 1979 UK Top 10 hit single “Babylon’s Burning”, and an earlier single “In a Rut”, which was not a hit but was highly regarded and regularly played by BBC Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel.
Something That I Said – S.U.S. – You’re Just A – It Was Cold
This was a quick hit and run set by Ruts DC who, like the headliners, showed pure class and and showed the songwriting skills are intelligent and damn sharp. They managed to pile in 12 incredible songs during their slot in Brighton. I have seen the RUTS DC boys, and allowed to photo them, this I think was one of the best performances I have seen them do. They were on fire tonight!
RUTS DC were guests tonight, they have headlined their own tours in the past. It is indeed a sign of kudos to the band that The Dome was full when they fired up and kicked off with Something That I Said, The song, I have to say, along with the rest of their material still sounding fresh. That song was first released around forty-three years ago.
Kill The Pain – West One – Born Innocent
SUS and the flaming groove of You’re Just A… stoked up the energy levels. We have the rumbling bass and searing vox of ‘Seggs’ Jennings, David Ruffy’s sat at the back on his drums and the pure energy created by Leigh Heggarty on his guitar. Put these three together and you get that kinetic energy that is RUTS DC.
Jah War – Staring at the Rude Boys – In a Rut
Their superb mix of punk, reggae and a slice of ska resulted in a mass of happy dancing bodies. Jah War seemed a little shorter than usual, no doubt as timings were tight for this outing.
The London trio were on fire, tight and coherent from the first note through to the last. Babylon’s Burning, their best known and biggest gave the final excuse for the crowd to join in with the chorus and nodding heads.
Babylon’s Burning – Psychic Attack
The last song and those fists are up pumping the air with the incendiary urgency of ‘Psychic Attack’. I had supplied some photos that were used in the video trailer for Psychic Attack, and so I always get a great buzz when I hear that one. It brought to an end a most jubilant RUTS DC set. Observing the RUTS DC relish to play and perform, I do think there is plenty of life left in this outfit.
Both bands bands continue to light up the music world.
My thanks to The Stranglers, RUTS DC and of course the fabulous staff at The Brighton Dome.
If you are a lover of all 70’s and beyond punk then do not miss this tour. This was a truly great night spending some time down memory lane and I can 100% confirm this night did not disappoint!
Words and photos – Ian Bourn, Scene Sussex.
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