Friday, April 15, 2016

The Stranglers

That’s an early draft of the song which went on to become The Stranglers’ paean to heroin use, Golden Brown. Well, no it isn’t…I just like the confluence of the lyric with one of Wellington’s premier eateries. Where else could we go for dinner before seeing The Stranglers?

The gig didn’t start until 8:30 so we were able to relax and do the full a la carte, no need to be rushed into the pre-theatre menu. I had Bluff oysters and the fillet steak, whilst Nicola had pāua ravioli and crispy skin gurnard. What can I say? They never fail to be anything other than excellent. For pudding I had the apple tart with accompanying cocktail, a gingembre mandorla, made with brandy, ginger and amaretto:

We then walked along Cuba Street to the Opera House, to see The Stranglers perform. They do so without the assistance of Hugh Cornwell, former singer and guitarist who left the band in 1990. Original members Jean-Jacques Burnel on bass, Dave Greenfield on keyboards, and Jet Black on drums, are now augmented by Baz Warne.

The support act was Ed Kuepper, apparently an Australian punk rocker (The Saints) of similar vintage to The Stranglers. He played some of his songs which were, no doubt, familiar to his followers.

At around half past nine, the lights went down again and The Stranglers kicked off. And I do mean kicked off. They came out fighting with Toiler On The Sea, Straighten Up, and (Get A) Grip (On Yourself). At this point Baz stopped for breath and said "hello Wellington", and invited us all to get up off our arses, before observing that we'd already done that! Very unusual for a Wellington Opera House audience, I thought - they usually sit still and politely applaud. After that "old school" start, I figured they were going to get some of the classics in before hitting us with the "N" word. But in fact, they didn't do any such thing. Whilst not a  "heritage" act, they didn't distinguish between new material and the older stuff. True, the set leant heavily towards the 70's with over half the songs coming from the first four albums, but there were representative songs from pretty much all their intermediate albums, including the most recent. A lot of them were the singles, particularly the early stuff, but there was a lot of album tracks as well - standouts such as Tank, Curfew and I Feel Like A Wog. Early singles were well represented - Peaches, the inevitable Golden Brown, Nuclear Device, Nice 'n' Sleazy, and Duchess; but later singles such as 96 Tears, Strange Little Girl, European Female didn't make the cut. Apart from slowing down for Golden Brown and Always The Sun, it was pretty well a high energy, high octane set. 

The first encore was the two cover versions with which they've had single success - Walk On By and All Day And All Of The Night. The second encore was the anthemic Go Buddy Go, and they finished up with No More Heroes.

We spilled out into the night (this party had gone on past 11 o'clock!) and headed home, slightly deafened by the still-reverberating chords from Jean-Jaques' bass-playing. Definitely the best gig I've been to this year! (Checks blog...only gig I've been to this year.)

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