The Stranglers March On at the Roundhouse Friday night at the Camden Roundhouse was bustling with excitement for the March On Tour of the iconic band The Stranglers. The venue was packed to the brim and ready to rock with the band. Setting the scene for the evening furor of music and mayhem was the Manchester punk band The Membranes. John Robb – front man gave a spirited performance to a reciprocating audience.
The Rezillo’s are a punk, new wave band highly influenced by the 60s garage sound. Their performance was volcanic. Fay Fife gave her all resulting in a red-hot performance. Eugene, Fay and the band were animate and vocally strong. Jumping around the stage to their fervent sound. And of course the chart topper – Top Of The Pops engendered a positively zany crowd reaction. They brilliantly lit the way for The Stranglers. Who are the Stranglers? I hear you say. Well excuse me but where have you been for the last four decades? The Stranglers have had over 20 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums. They are one of the most continuously successful bands to come out of the era of the 70’s. Their unique style was instrumental in paving the way for the Punk rock movement. The band entered the arena in darkness: The stage was without light only a slight glow from the back of the Roundhouse. There was a feeling of tension in the arena as the audience waited for the band to make its entrance. Well you could have stood at the other end of Camden and heard the raucous roar of the fans as JJ made his appearance, followed by Baz Warne and the rest of the crew. The set was long but never boring and it held captive the most spirited and vivacious audience that I have seen in a long while. Get A Grip On Yourself absolutely delighted the fans – including myself jumping up and down in the photographer’s pit, gaining an approving smile from JJ himself. Jean-Jacques distinctive cynical bass playing along with the bordering melancholic keyboards of Dave Greenfield engendered memories of another time, another place a testament to an enigmatic timeless sound, that what is the Stranglers. They are the only band I know that can flip from a typical hardcore punk sound to a Baroque style and still have the old-school punk rock crowd enthralled. The magic that is the Stranglers is still there. Yes, they have Baz as lead man. Does he have the same pensive style of Cornwell? Well, no he doesn’t, he has a more upbeat style and presence, but he is a great and strong addition to the band. The set included the huge hit Golden Brown always a captivating sound and today just as beautiful and contemporary as it was when first released. The classical baroque sounds coupled with haunting vocals certainly sent shivers down the spine. I for one just closed my eyes and drifted to a far off place and I am sure I was not the only one. The crowd were calling for Jet Black and he was welcomed with thunderous applaud. His drums where positioned in such a way that you could see him through the transparent skins. Jet Black is a living legend among drummers and despite health issues plays part of the set with the stranglers where the stage is big enough to hold two drum kits. It was a thrill and honor to hear him play. Jean-Jacques has a profound stage presence and his unmistakable bass guitar riffs are synonymous with the sound that is the Stranglers. His bass guitar skills, somewhat sabulous and gritty vocals and enigmatic looks are captivating. JJ is the embodiment of The Stranglers in many ways. There were two encores and the final song was probably the song that most people in the audience identify the Stranglers with – No More Heroes. I don’t think there was a still person in the Roundhouse. The fans were an undulating sea of people. And they where still screaming for more. The Stranglers are a band that makes distinctive and intelligent music. They are non-conformist and certainly are not followers. The Stranglers are a concept and it matters not who the present members are. They are an idea of intelligent music that can only expand the mind.