LivE Dates

2012    

 United Kingdom

 

 

1 March

Leeds

O2 Academy

2 March

Dunfermline

Alhambra

3 March

Glasgow

O2 Academy

5 March

Liverpool

O2 Academy

6 March

Nottingham

Rock City

8 March

Cambridge

Corn Exchange

9 March

London

Roundhouse

10 March

Birmingham

O2 Academy

12 March

Oxford

O2 Academy

13 March

Portsmouth

Pyramids Centre

15 March

Lincoln

Engine Shed

16 March

Brighton

Dome

17 March

Bristol

O2 Academy

19 March

Leamington Spa

Assembly

20 March

Guildford

G-Live

22 March

Newcastle

O2 Academy

23 March

Sheffield

O2 Academy

24 March

Manchester

Academy

 Belgium

 

 

31March

Lessines

Rene Magritte Centre

 France

 

 

2 April

Lille

Le Splendid

3 April

Angers

Chabada

4 April

Rennes

Le Liberte

5 April

Limoges

C C John Lennon

6 April

Bordeaux

Rock School Barbey

7 April

Toulouse

Le Bikini

9 April

Montpellier

Rockstore

10 April

Marseille

Espace Julien

11 April

Lyon

Transbordeur

13 April

Paris

Olympia

14 April

Magny Cours

Bol D'Or Rocks

 Switzerland

 

 

15 April

Zurich

Dynamo

 Italy

 

 

17 April

Florence

Viper

18 April

Milan

Live Club

 Austria

 

 

19 April

Vienna

Szene

 Czech Republic

 

 

20 April

Prague

Meet Factory

 Germany

 

 

21 April

Berlin

C-Club

23 April

Hamburg

Fabrik

24 April

Cologne

Luxor

 France

 

 

25 April

Caen

Big Band Cafe

 Holland

 

 

26 April

Utrecht

Tivoli

 Belgium

 

 

27 April

Leuven

Het Depot

 

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Ugly, Guildford, 1978

Features: Black and blue- A Fan's tour diary

30 March

Behind the wheel

The band's UK tour in March 2011 took in seventeen dates all around England and Scotland. Intrepid traveller, and well-known face at gigs, Colin Mace (AKA Rodders), attended every date of the tour. He was kind enough to provide us with a diary of his arduous month of driving, hotels, gigs, kebabs and the occasional drink...

Newcastle 04-03-11

A 4am start to the day meant that the M25 could be passed through without too much hassle before it turned into Europe’s biggest car park! Also it would ensure that enough time would be given for a steady drive, seeing us arrive in good time for a bit of RnR before the evening's proceedings.

Newcastle has always been dear to my heart, the Quayside Market has long since gone and the area is now redeveloped, which is where we find our ‘digs’ for the night! After freshening up we make our way down to the ‘pub’!! On entering, some of the usual suspects are there (others are notably missing, for various reasons) and also many familiar faces who's names I don't know but who are regulars at gigs. An hour of chat means its nearly time for the doors to open. I have decided that I will give the supports a look, being first night and all, so we go in and I casually stroll up onto the barrier which will be my home for the next few hours. 

Mike Marlin, NewcastleUp first is Mike Marlin – first impressions are nothing special, some pleasant tunes but he’s definitely no “Starbase”!!

Next up is Mr Wilko Johnson – whom I had been looking forward to seeing and both he and the band didn’t disappoint! What a tight little set he performed. I only knew a couple as they we Dr Feelgood tracks, but the whole set was full of energy and rhythm and both Wilko and Norman were living every note played!! I would certainly see them every night given the chance!

And so onto the main event! Well you don’t need me to tell you what it’s like when the lights go out and Waltzinblack begins. The only thing about tonight was ‘which song would they open with’? Well the first surprise of the night was I Feel Like A Wog!! Closely followed by Was It You? This made for a very welcome change to the setlist of old and also set the tone for the rest of the night.  Peaches and Grip followed, but it was only with the latter that the band really seemed to find their feet again! First night rustiness was evident, but you couldn’t fault the enthusiasm and energy that was building by this point! Then came the curve-ball! A new song called Freedom Is Insane sounded good on the first hearing. It had all the trademarks of what could be a good Stranglers’ song, so on the first hearing, the future looks bright!

Then came the ‘standards’ which we expect and know that, for the majority, these are some of the tracks they want to hear! Then it was into a volley of songs which for the most part took the breath away!! Much has been said in the past few years about the band playing certain songs to death, but before this tour they said they were going to mix it up a bit!! And that they did!Glasgow

It wasn’t no great secret that they were considering playing Baroque Bordello but it still sent a shiver down my spine when the intro began!! Tramp sounded good. Never To Look Back is for me one of JJ’s finest vocals and comes over really well live. Two Sunspots sounded jerky and quirky. It's great to hear but this, out of all of these tracks, might be the one that perhaps the band feel doesn’t quite work!! Then again, it just might prove to grow and evolve as the tour goes on, only time will tell! A second bass appears on stage via a roadie and you just know that it can only be one song! Yep, Dead Loss Angeles. It was a blinding version I thought, loved Baz’s vocal! Threatened, Something Better Change and a blistering Sweden carried on proceedings. Nuclear Device was as solid as ever and then it was Relentless! Yep, in more ways than one!! Great track, great version and a very welcome return to the set.

Encores as you will all know by the time you read this were All Day, Duchess, Hanging Around and No More Heroes.

So, for the opening night, there were a few surprises and more than enough to hopefully keep many different minded people happy! Some tinkering of the set might ensue over the coming days, only time will tell on that one, but the start has been very promising and hopefully this tour will build as usual as it progresses.

I suppose I had better now get ready for the drive to Glasgow and yet another ‘family’ gathering!!

Glasgow 05-03-11

After a pleasant drive through the English and Scottish countryside, the sun shone as we entered Glasgow! Much organising had been made prior to this gig for the social festivities and the plan came together. Family from the four corners of the uk and beyond gathered for the pre gig piss up!! It was such a success, that the evening was for the most part, on reflection, a blur!! The band and crowd were energetic and playful. From the stage, there were signs that things are tightening up nicely!! Two Sunspots sounded much rounder than the previous night. Tramp was heavenly and the new one Freedom Is Insane, is most definitely a grower for me and could become a firm fave!!

The only problem on the night were the ‘picky’ bouncers!! I saw a few people being removed or spoken to for simply ‘enjoying’ themselves!! I couldn’t see any reason for it in any of the cases I witnessed!! I did however hear of our friend, Adrian, who was ejected from the gig, solely for having a good time!!

Edinburgh 06-03-11

Baz's injured hand!Woke up this morning with a rather sizable hangover!! Though from the previous nights festivities, I would imagine that I was not the only one suffering in this way!!!

First priority was to find some food!! Nothing like something greasy after a night on the sauce! Food intake duly administered, it was then time to get a bit of rest till the arrival of part of the Glasgow contingent, who would be travelling over to the Scottish capital!! We duly arrived in Edinburgh and parked behind the venue with the majestic splendour of the Castle as a stunning backdrop! The pub (for those not on driving duties) was found and after numerous calls and texts, many friends and family joined in the proceedings! A much tamer affair compared to the previous night, then again, most were still tender from that session!

We entered the venue early and caught Mike Marlin again! He’s OK but doesn’t really do anything for me!! Wilko on the other hand is another matter!! What another great performance! Full of energy and the band are as tight as any I have seen! Great little set and a joy to watch! Norman Watt Roy is a master of his craft! One of the few bass players who can give a certain chap a good run for his money, and, at times, even surpass him!! The guy SWEATS every note he plays!! It was at times dripping like a tap off him! Completing the line up, the drummer is pretty tasty too but, because of the obvious ‘standings’ of the other two, he may go un-noticed!

Jock The Box, EdinburghThen, onto The Stranglers! Jock The Box makes a welcome return, stirring the crowd up with Waltzinblack for the band to enter. The crowd are boisterous and lively which is a good sign!! There are problems with the intro to Was It You? which took 3 attempts. It seemed that Jet couldn’t hear what was going on for some reason, as he was out of time with the others! But normal service was soon resumed as Bordello was again inspired and beautiful. Tramp is getting tighter but tonight, again, I thought that Two Sunspots was the weak link!  I'm unsure what happened at the end of Sweden but it was evident that JJ wasn’t the happiest bunny in the room!! The rest of the gig passed quickly and the band looked like they wanted to get off as quick as possible!

Not the best of the tour so far!! Seem to remember a blip on the last tour and which galvanised the band, making them getting tighter and stronger after that. Hopefully this will prove right in Liverpool!!

Day Off 07-03-11

After dropping lads off around Glasgow into the early hours, finally crashed out at 2.30 in the morning!

Following about 6 hours sleep, its then time to saunter on down to Liverpool!! This is done with ease!! Unlike last year’s tour, where we seemed to encounter every set of road-works known to man, this tour so far has been plain sailing!! Dare I say that perhaps the economic climate has had a positive effect on certain things!!!

Having arrived in Liverpool and booked into digs, then it’s off for a walk into the city centre for a bite to eat and then back for a well needed early night!!

JJ Liverpool

Liverpool 08-03-11

After what was probably the best night’s sleep in years, I awoke to see the splendour of the Mersey and Liverpool bathed in glorious sunshine!!! There were clear blue skies and a slight chill, but it was a very pleasant day nonetheless for a spot of sightseeing!! Spent a few hours just walking around the re-generated docks and city centre, making the most of the weather, before returning to the hotel for a snooze before the evening’s entertainment!

After the events in Edinburgh, it will be interesting to see the reaction is this time!!

Showtime came around all too quickly. By the time Mike Marlin took to the stage the venue was still sparsely populated!! Though by the time he had finished his set, the crowd had swelled and he probably ended up playing to his biggest crowd of the tour so far! Next up was Wilko and yet again we were not disappointed by the man!

Wilko Johnson......and Norman Watt Roy

Obviously the day off had done wonders for the band as, from the minute they took to the stage, they were awesome!  A stoke of pure genius getting Wilko to support the band on tour and there is almost an air of trepidation at times as to whether the Stranglers can actually follow such a performance!! Norman once again did his best to flood the stage!! Don’t know what he does when he’s off stage, but he must just constantly drink water just to re-hydrate himself! So another great set from the band which left me eagerly awaiting the next gig!!

So on to The Stranglers! Would it be back to business as usual or another off night?? Well there was only going to be one outcome really!!! As soon as they launched into Wog, it was evident from my position on the barrier centre stage that the sound was nearly spot on!! As the intro to Was It You? began, everything was fine and dandy and the song, just like the whole set, passed without incident! Back to form and they ‘nailed’ it! I got a much better listen to the newbie Freedom Is Insane. Possibly the familiarity and the sound on the night helped but it has hit a note with me! Yeah, there may be hints of other songs in there and who really cares? It's a new song which bodes well for the future!

So the set took on the momentum of the good start and the obvious chemistry on stage! Stand out track on the night was Bordello! It was a great song in the first place, but for me Baz does it justice and it is a most welcome addition, along with the others, to the set! The only track that still does not work for me is Two Sunspots!! I just can’t get my head around it. I enjoy the song, but there’s something there that makes me feel that it just does not work as well as the others!

So, on the whole, a vast improvement on the previous gig although things looked a bit tense at times! Hopefully now having ironed out any problems this tour will move on at a pace. The omens are looking good!

Nottingham 09-03-11

Woke up this morning with a sense of relief and satisfaction after last nights gig! And so its on to Nottingham and the last gig of this part of the journey!

Tried to kill the hours between leaving Liverpool and arriving in Nottingham as there was no socialising planned for tonight! We were leaving straight after the gig. It would be a long drive home, though the early stage times would mean we would not be as late as normal!!

Got in the venue just towards the end of Wilko’s set, he seemed just as energetic as previous nights! The Stranglers arrived at 2030hrs and it was back to business! JJ looked the happiest I had seen him all tour so far!! There was something obviously going on between him and Baz on the night, as much playfulness was to be seen! Much more interaction all round between the band. Dave was his usual animated self throughout the gig, I even think he thought he was the lead singer during Relentless, singing away to himself!!

Dave in full flow

Some twat threw a pint of beer on stage during SBC, which resulted in a bit of improvisation from JJ and Baz, in the form of an acapella version of “Falling In Love Again”, whilst Baz’s foot pedals were changed! Baz then quite rightly berated the idiot!!

To beat the rush we left before the second encore and then embarked on the journey home!! Having made a comment previously in these jottings about the lack of roadworks, well it came back to bite me on the bum!! M1 and M25 were like a battle zone in the ‘cone-wars’, 50mph speed limits for mile after endless mile!! The results being that I finally arrived home at 2.30 in the morning!

So an overview of the tour so far would read as follows! Great to see that there have been some changes to the set and, whilst they may not be the ones that everybody would have liked to hear, you can't knock the band for what they have done! There have obviously been some issues in the first few gigs, most of which would seemed to have been ironed out and normal service has been resumed! As I actually write this bit, having spent six days on the road, it has so far been for me a good tour!! It’s tiring, sometimes the roads can be long and boring, but for me, driving around the places gives me the sense of freedom to do it at our leisure! May not be everyones idea of a great time, but for me and others it works!!

Day Off 10-03-11

Time to sort out the washing!! Tidy and restock the car!! And get some rest!!! Roll on tomorrow and the big Smoke!

London 11-03-11

Day of the London gig arrives with eager anticipation after the previous couple of gigs, where the band had seemed to have found their mojo again and were getting back down to business!!

WilkoThe usual Hammersmith pre-gig socialising at the Duke Of Cornwall blessed the day with the usual mix of friends old and new!!  Decided to get in early once again, so we duly made our way to the venue!! Quite a sizable crowd waiting for the doors to open and when we did eventually get in, there were a few spaces at the front which we then made our own!

I personally have never liked the Apollo! I like to have the bands close up and here the curved stage means that, although the band are in clear view, they are distanced from the crowd!! This however didn’t detract on the night from what was a damn good and solid performance! Not a lot of interaction between the band as in Nottingham, but plenty of smiling none the less!!

It would be so easy, as I have said in the past, to say that it was better than the previous gig! Each gig is different in many ways depending on your view, the sound and how the band are performing! Tonight's stage set up means that whilst you are distanced from them a lot more, it does give you the luxury of being able to see more of whats happening as a whole rather than just watching certain areas!! Can't fault the performance of many of the songs on the night, even Two Sunspots sounded meatier tonight!! The addition of Five Minutes half way through the set gave the average punter something to get their teeth into and was, for me, a welcome return!!

A great gig nonetheless and long may the greatness continue!

Leeds 12-03-11

Woke up this morning after 5 hours sleep and wasn’t well!!!! Bloody cold!!! Anyway, onto Leeds and the pleasures of the M1!!

Overnight stop off is in Sheffield, so only a half hour drive to Leeds for the gig! Early doors tonight due to curfew at 10.30pm so no social gathering, just get to the gig and then shoot off! Cold that came on earlier in the day is at its peak now, but hey ho! Another gig beckons! Crowd in Leeds on a Saturday night were well up for it!! Loads of dancing and pleasure was evident from the start!! Most noticeable cheers so far on the tour have been associated with Golden Brown and All Day And All Of The Night! Some of the changes to the set and the new song seem to either leave the majority bemused or just eager for a rest! For Grip, Sleazy, Peaches, Heroes and the usual suspects, all get the crowd up and moving! Great to see and a testament to how familiar these songs are to the general public!

Tonights highlight for me was Threatened! Classic written all over it for many years and still a crowd pleaser!! Another good gig, I suppose the use of the word ‘Great’ might find its way in there also, but at the moment, the band have found the form and it is good to witness!

Leicester 13-03-11

Arrived in Leicester to find the gig very easily, but car parking was not so much a problem once we could fathom out the directions one of the staff gave us!! Anyway, eventually stuck the car in an empty place and retired to the Student Library, for a well earned caffeine boost!!

The venue is the most welcoming of places, tight, compact and well laid out, great little place to get up close and personal to the band!! Mike Marlin saunters onto the cluttered stage and gets a good response, he even throws a new song into the set tonight!!! Wilko and co receive a more than warm welcome and once again deliver the goods. What a great addition to the tour he has been, great audience responses throughout the tour and, in my opinion, all very well deserved!!

Jet Leicester

The Stranglers take to the stage and it's another full on assault, with the momentum being carried on from the last few gigs!! They are as tight as ever and it is yet another cracking gig!! Really had a great view of Jet tonight, what a powerhouse of a drummer!! When many of his age would prefer to take things a little easy, Jet still does what he does and aren’t we all bloody grateful that he not only has the energy but the enthusiasm for doing it!! All four have now hit the level! And coupled with a tight little venue and some great sound, this made for a great nights entertainment!!

It says a lot when the mosh pit is energetic during Golden Brown!!! But people were having fun, it almost seemed like a New Model Army gig at times, very friendly atmosphere to boot!! (Note: NMA are another of Colin's fave bands)

Can it get any better??? Well I keep thinking it can't and then another night comes along and proves otherwise!! The past glories of yesteryear may be gone, but this band still have what it takes where it matters. The new, younger elements of the audience not only have the chance to share the experience but also see the appeal that the band still holds!!

Day Off 14-03-11

Finally arrived back home at 0315hrs! Totally knackered! Day spent resting, chilling and sorting the car out!! It’s amazing just how untidy the thing gets when out on the road!!

Oxford 15-03-11

First of a string of gigs which can be attended with a return home after! So the morning is spent doing some domestic stuff before the short and relatively easy trip over to the other side of London! Duly arrived and, with car parked,  met up with ‘family’ and we made our way into the venue!! I like this place!! Small and compact, low ceiling and, when the conditions are right, it can just add to the atmosphere on the night!!  Well it was a hot and sticky affair for sure!!  Shock Horror!! Mike Marlin appears without the dressing gown!!! Oother than that it was much the same from him and the band!! Can't fault their enthusiasm but, although some of the songs are catchy, they don’t really do it for me!

Wilko et al seemed a bit subdued tonight!! Still put on a great spectacle, but there seemed a little bit lacking from previous nights! With the very hot conditions, young Norman must have lost half his body weight tonight through sweating!! I really must find out the name of the really long song in the middle of his set!! Wilko had improvised something different each night so far with it and Norman has a bit of freedom there as well! Great stuff all round yet again but, as I said, a little bit subdued!!JJB Liverpool

As for the Stranglers, another tight set as I have come to expect now on the tour!! The crowd started off a little subdued (there's that word again!!) and it was only when Grip sounded out that the sweaty mosh formed!! Freedom Is Insane  just seems to get better with each airing! The heat on stage was very evident with both JJ and Baz sweating buckets!!  Again, during the gig, the ‘Hits’ brought the biggest responses from the majority of the audience!  I do like to see the reaction from people to certain songs. It has been most notable and commented on that during the tour that the so called ‘Standards’, which have made up the core of recent tours, have had the most energetic and enthusiastic responses each night!! The introduction of Five Minutes into the set has added a bit of momentum to the preceedings at a point where, for many of the average punters in the audience, there are some unknown songs! But then again, if you manage to catch any conversations after the gig, Bordello, Tramp,  Dead Loss Angeles and Sweden get talked about as being great additions to the set! Whatever your stance and opinion on the setlist is, we can't knock the band for changing things and making it diverse!

And then in what would seem like a blink of an eye, it was all over!! One hot and sticky night in Oxford, done and dusted!!

And that now means that for the first time this tour, I have done more gigs than are left to do!! That's the worst bit about the night!! It’s all been going far too quickly!! Trying to savour every moment is hard! Tis a good job I still have a half decent memory, otherwise the whole thing would just pass me by!!

Day Off 16-03-11

Tired!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cambridge 17-03-11

Woke up refreshed after a bloody good nights sleep!! Also I have the luxury of having a lazy day as don’t have to pick anyone up for this gig, and don’t have to leave early as it’s only a hours drive to Cambridge!! Makes a nice and refreshing change!!

Duly arrived and parked up. Headed down to pub! Quiet social side tonight, pleasant conversation and company!

The actual gig has to be one of the best gigs that this line up has done to date!! I thought that Leicester a few days ago had been the best so far on the tour, but tonight they surpassed even that! Everything just gelled!!  The sound was spot on! The band were spot on!! And the crowd, well I have been to gigs where there has been a better atmosphere, but as I said, everything just fitted like a glove tonight!! And for the first time on the tour, Two Sunspots didn’t seem out of place!!  From the opening bars of I Feel Like A Wog to the deafening finish of Heroes, time seemed to fly by! Couldnt really say that any track stood out above the others tonight as they all seemed to have been majestic!!

Dave LeicesterJet Black, what a man!! Played is heart out even more tonight! Solid, steady and reliable...at times it just seems to easy! But that is the mark of the man, that he is that good that he does make it look so effortless! Dave was, well, just Dave!! Stood up there for all to see, living every note he plays, especially during his solos and whilst others may get the attention, he just produces time after time! Don’t know what happened during the solo on Heroes though, looked like the liquid refreshment went down the wrong hole!! Coughing and spluttering, much to the amusement of both JJ and Baz!

JJ was on fine vocal form tonight, Never To Look Back is for me one of his best vocals and it has been a great addition to the set! Threatened was menacing and the newbie sounded as good as before! And as for young Baz!! Well, he is infectious!! For me in the last few years, the man has moved out of the shadows and into the limelight and taken the band to a new level! His energy and enthusiasm is IMHO faultless! He adds something which the others feed off and on nights when they nail it so precisely, it is a privilege to witness!

And so the tour progresses with a purpose! It’s going by so fast that I look back on the last 2 weeks and wonder where it has gone!! But then again perhaps when you enjoy something a lot, thats bound to happen! It’s been a great adventure so far! One which I have been very lucky to have had the chance of experiencing!

Brighton 18-03-11

No pressure boys, but you will have to go some to beat last nights gig!!!

Well it was another good gig, but Cambridge still holds the mantle of ‘best gig’ so far!!

First night on the tour where I have witnessed any trouble!! OK so it was only ‘handbags at dawn’ but on the whole everything I have seen so far has been very good natured! Has been noticeable that some sections of the audience on some nights have been very energetic and lively!! Last night was no exception! A mixture of young and old, jumping around, pushing and shoving, in a dancing kind of way!!! Some people take exception to this, but generally for me, the rule of thumb is – if you don’t like it, don’t go down the front!! And if you are on the barrier, then you expect to get crushed if the mosh is behind you! Bouncers/Security seemed to be on top of it, whilst not going over the top. As for the two very drunk and obnoxious guys, who were obviously far too gone even for their own safety, they were ushered out at different points during the evening!

But on the whole, the crowds have been a lot more tamer than last years tour, then again that could in part be due to the changed set! Whatever happens between now and Manchester, this tour will have been in many folks eyes, a great success!

Birmingham 19-03-11 Colin's sleazy friends, Brum

Well the sun game out!! After the wet and very cold trip to the coast, the sun shone and blue skies abounded for the trip up to Brum!! A pre-gig ‘meet up’ had been arranged for tonight, and it was a pleasant affair to say the least! It’s always good to meet up with like minded souls, to share a drink and conversation, no matter from what walk of life we all come from! Those who frequent either the ‘Burning Up Time’ forum or Facebook (or both!!) will be aware that these occasions have formed great friendships with people who we may not have ever come into contact with had it not been for this band! JJ has often remarked about the fans being ‘family’ and on these occasions its great to catch up with people from far and wide. You may not necessarily have contact with them on a regular basis, but you greet as long lost friends when such meetings take place! Mind you, there are other familiar faces who are also welcome friends at many gigs! Those people you meet, greet and converse with, you may not even know their names, but they are so familiar over the years at gigs.

Tonights gig is packed!! Great atmosphere and for the first time this tour, the whole event was perfect! Great crowd, which fed the band and in turn they returned the compliment by storming through the set! Smiles, laughter and a good time was seemed to be had by all concerned! Conversation after the gig turned to the fact that at times it can seem so shallow and sycophantic to keep on coming out of gigs and saying that that was the best one and could they ever beat that, but sometimes it just has to be said!! This tour so far has had many different combination in terms of band, venue, audience, and in their own way each gig is different, but on a night like this, when everything seemed to fall into place, it does make you wonder if it can get any better! But sometimes it does!! I actually stood on JJ’s side for the first time this tour, in the company of some very good friends and it was the first night without any pain from the mosh! Just stood there and watched in awe at times of a great band, being just that!!! So that's 12 down, 5 to go! And I am sure there are more superlatives to be thrown their way before the last note is played in Manchester!

Day Off 20-03-11

A welcome return to home ensured a day of partial rest after 2 gigs, where the travelling seemed to take its toll!!

Baz Norwich

Norwich 21-03-11

And so we enter the final week of the tour!! Looking back its hard to see where the last couple of weeks have gone!! It’s all past by so very quickly but I suppose thats been because it has been so enjoyable!! Anyway its off to Norwich in the hope that the week will slow down, but I doubt it!!
Norwich UEA is probably the smallest venue on the tour! I like the venue and when its packed there can be a great atmosphere. Tonight's gig, doesn’t look like a ‘sell out’ by far, but it does prove to be a continuation of previous performances on the tour!

Mike Marlin doesn’t have the best of gigs!! Problems with ‘power’ means that there is no guitar sound, and much frantic chopping and changing of ‘leads and wires’ to try and sort it out! But he and the band have no luck and the set is cut short! 13th gig of the tour? Gremlins?? Who knows! But it wasn’t to be tonight! Wilko on the other hand, had no problems!! The sound was raw and loud, and the original drummer (who for me is the better one) has returned again!! I really must get to see this band at one of their own gigs! They have been for me, fantastic each night!

At 2130hrs, the opening bars of Waltzinblack herald the arrival of the main event yet again!! And it's straight into I Feel Like A Wog, no signs of any letting up in the energy and enthusiasm department again tonight! Blistering version is followed by Was It You?, where Baz, as with each night of the tour, takes the guitar in both hands and grinds out the riff with menace and beauty! They have hit the ‘level’ now and its a joy to watch the band doing the business on a nightly basis! When they are good, they are bloody good! A small and less energetic ‘mosh’ forms at the front, all good natured and friendly, people having a good time driven by the sound emulating from the stage! The set is then over all too quickly once again, though not before I leave the relative calm of the barrier, to join in the ‘mosh’ for Heroes! Well it was me birthday, so I thought I’d see what it was like for the first time as 48 YEAR OLD!! Damn nearly killed me, to be honest!!...............I must be getting old!!

Portsmouth 22-03-11

En route to PompeyAh, a return to one of my old stomping grounds!! The weather was bloody lovely today! Hottest day of the tour so far, and the sun was shining as we entered the outskirts of Pompey, glistening on the water which edged us into the town centre! I had a mission! Visit what was HMS Vernon! Vernon was my first introduction into real Navy life as it was my first draft after training. Spent some happy times there as a fresh faced Matelot! But like many things in life, it has changed!! The main gate is still there, but the rest has long gone, replaced by one of these trendy redevelopments, full of bars, shops and high class housing! So a glass or two of shandy were taken overlooking the harbour, whilst the sun slowly sets in the distance!!

Reminiscing over, it was on to the gig! The Pyramids is part of a leisure centre and from the moment I walked in, you could feel the heat of the place and the smell of the chlorine in the air!! As the place slowly filled up so the temperature was rising!! Wasn't the dry heat of Oxford, and in many ways that made it worse!! By the time The Stranglers came on stage, it was like a sauna! And it didn’t take too long before the beads of sweat turned into a torrential downpour on stage!! The band played a blinder yet again, as we have come to expect now on the tour, and whilst the heat was a factor, both band and audience were well up for it! The sound was good and tight on the night and at the end all parties left with the feeling of satisfaction!

Day Off 23-03-11

Tiredness and exhaustion kicked in on the journey home last night! The old proverbial ‘wall’ had been hit!! Having met the same thing last year on the tour, I had learned the lessons dealt then and taken things a lot easier this time. However no amount of planning can prepare you for the long hours on the road, when tiredness kicks in!! It becomes mentally challenging as well as physically and trying to balance everything in the right proportions can be a struggle! The enjoyment of it all keeps you going, but I know that once the tour is over, that the real effect of it all will kick in!! Even on a day off, while trying to relax and rest up, you still have a buzz about you because you know it starts again the following day. I don’t suppose the psychological factor helps either, in so much as the tour is coming to an end and that it has passed by so quickly! But doesn’t time always seem to pass by so quickly when you are enjoying something so much!!

Bristol 24-03-11

Tiredness and copious amounts of alcohol before the gig left me in a rather unsettling mood for this one!! Needless to say that, after a few songs, I beat a hasty retreat to the bar area and watched proceedings from there. Being rather tall in stature, it doesn’t matter really where I stand!! From what I can remember, sound was good, audience packed to the rafters and another one under our belts!!

Sheffield 25-03-11

Well it wasn’t any great surprise to wake up this morning and not only have a rather sensitive hangover, but the body was weak and feeble to boot! 10am start up to Sheffield, it was a slow, leisurely and unhindered drive and we even pulled over for a rather nice and very welcome meal at a Toby Carvery!! Then it was on to hotel, book in and prepare for the penultimate gig of the tour!!

Well it wasn’t a sell out, which was a surprise for a Friday night, but it would have seemed that most went away with a sense of satisfaction from the night's entertainment!! Never saw Mike Marlin, as the peace and tranquillity of a quiet pub with friends seemed almost too good to leave before the gig!! But leave we did and made our way into the venue before Wilko and co did their stuff!! What a great inspired choice of support for the tour! The crowds have been constantly good for him each night and he hasn’t let us down one bit throughout. Tonight was no exception, great performance from all three on stage and once again sweat by the bucket load from young Norman!! Great Stuff!

And so on to the main event! After the downer of a night for me in Bristol, it was back to normal, well, as near normal as I could be at this stage in the tour!

Black and Blue live

It’s Baz’s birthday! A rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the crowd makes him happy! And as with previous gigs, there are smiles all round on the stage! It’s all coming to an end soon and you can see that the tension of the early dates has long since gone! JJ forgets the words to part of Freedom, but no one notices! Very noticeable just how relaxed it is tonight! Perhaps the birthday celebrations and end of tour feeling have just mellowed things a little! Though this is certainly not a ‘going through the motions exercise’ tonight! It’s great to see the band enjoying themselves, like JJ during Sunspots! He looked like he was in a world of his own with the clock turned back a fair few years! Great to see him immersed in the moment and delving into his back catalogue of moves! Song of the night, if not the tour, has to be Relentless! What a welcome return to the set and long may it be a regular! Epitomises for me what the Stranglers are all about!

And then it was all over! And that feeling then took hold that tomorrow was the last night of the tour, how quick that had come around!!

Manchester 26-03-11

Due to cost, logistics and work beckoning on Monday, we decided to stay over after the gig back in Sheffield. So, with a couple of good friends in tow, we departed for Manchester and the last night of the tour! Our arrival was to be timed with the beginning of the Football, and we arrived in Jabez Cleggs to find not only a empty pub but no Sky TV!! Bugger!! Oh well game of pool it was then!! After a while the place started to fill up and another good social event was in full flow!! Much alcohol was being consumed and the odd coke for moi!! Made our way into the venue early, just to take up position for one last time!! Talk of a ‘sell-out’ would seem to have been justified as when Mike Marlin took to the stage, he easily played to his biggest audience of the tour!! Perhaps many had done as we did and got in early to get a good spot!! Mike Marlin has done well on the tour, not really my thing but give him and his band the credit, they have played their hearts out and seemed to go down well with the polite crowd!

Enter Wilko, Norman and Dylan!! What a coup this was getting them on the tour!! Have gone down well every night and tonight stormed through their set! A couple of stage invaders interrupted proceedings in the form of those likely lads, Messrs Burnel and Warne, wearing only smiles and carrying novelty balloons!! Only Dylan will know the full extent of the chill on stage as the pranksters, with their backs to the audience, raised both hands in the air!! Then they were off to leave the band to it and yet again prove just what masters of their craft they are!!

So you just know whats going to happen next!! Last night of the tour, band in playful mode, light go out, on comes Waltzinblack and then another fun packed hour and a half with the band well at ease and firing yet again on all cylinders. The intention is there for all to see and Baz quickly lays down the tone for the night saying ”Last night of the tour...LETS FOOKING AVE IT!!!!’ What follows is a continuation of the tour, band happy, content, energetic, enthusiastic! Crowd swelling, sweaty, loud and frenzied!! Did they save the best 'til last?? They just might have done!! And as with each night it seemed that with a blink of an eye, it was all over. The last cry from Baz at the end of Heroes was the final act of the tour!!! But hold on whats this!! JJ beckons Jet and Dave down to the front and they take a collective bow to an adoring public!! One last gesture on the night which showed a mutual respect and appreciation between band and the fans!

Jet BlackAnd then they were off into the night and it was all over! Post gig chat then took place before the staff ushered us out and a few retired for last orders in the pub! I was now both physically and emotionally drained!!

Goodbyes were then exchanged and one last kebab of the tour! Not the best, Bristol had that honour! But it was ok!! Car duly found, it was then back to Sheffield, negotiating the thick fog which engulfed most of ‘Snake Pass’ we finally made it back and to bed!!

The return home 27-03-11

It was both solemn and a relief!

Epilogue

Some 22 days ago or in some ways, a lifetime, the tour began with eager anticipation and now it's all over!

Looking back so soon after the event it has to be said that, from my point of view, the tour was a great success! The band took a real gamble! Having had a setlist that for the last 2 tours at least, had comprised mostly of a ‘Greatest Hits’ package, they threw caution to the wind and stepped out of their comfort zone! Every fan could have thrown their choices of different songs to have been played before the tour started but the band for the most part seemed to have got the mix just right! A tinkering of the set along the way and the addition of Five Minutes strategically placed half way through, seemed to get the balance right! There was something there for everyone! Whilst the older, seldom played stuff might have taken a while to warm up some of the contingent of fans, there were enough ‘hits’ there to keep the general public interested! The new song, for me, bodes well for the future as does the energy and enthusiasm of the band at this point in their long and varied career! The reaction to songs like Golden Brown, Always The Sun and All Day And All Of The Night by the crowds each night just go to show that the desire for the majority of the audience to hear such songs is strong as ever!

It would also be very sycophantic to say, especially as I was asked to write this diary for the ‘Official’ website, that they were great every night, just because it was the right thing to say! But I thoroughly enjoyed every night of the tour! It ain't always going to be perfect! If we wanted ‘perfect’ then we might as well stay at home and stick on the record! Each night was different in its own way, depending on venue, crowd, atmosphere, band's mood and the like! I was lucky to have been able to have the chance of doing the full tour and, as those who know me are aware, like many other fans, given the chance of seeing the band no matter where, I/WE will take the chance to do so! And, for as long as this band continues, we will endeavour to follow them wherever they play, given the opportunity!

So Thanks to the band and all the crew, and one and only Ava Rave!, for a great tour and some great memories!

And finally, as I conclude this piece, a few personal ‘Thank Yous’
Firstly, to my travelling and gig companion Claire, who for the priviledge of getting door to door service, has to put up with me!! She is great company and, as those of you who know her, a lovely lady to boot! Her sense of direction may be a little wayward at times (good old sat nav!), but she keeps me fed and watered whilst I do the easy bit of driving!! So thanks Claire for the friendship and the company,...............oh yes and half the petrol money of course!!!

The main reason for undertaking such a venture is to see the band, but sometimes actually seeing the band can become secondary to the social side of things! The meeting of like minded souls from all walks of life and backgrounds, who share one common denominator The Stranglers! I won't actually mention anyone by name. Firstly there are so many people over the last few weeks who have made this tour even more memorable for me by their presence and secondly I don’t want to offend anyone by not mentioning them!

So to all those who’s paths I have crossed along the way, shared a drink, conversation, kebab, travelling, even the air that I breath with!! A big Thank You! It's been great! It’s been tiring!

And the final quote of the tour from me will be...................Never again!!!

A final note: Thanks very much to Colin for writing such a detailed diary of the last month's events, especially as he provided it bit by bit through the tour as/when he could get an Internet connection.

Parting comment to Colin..... We'll see!!!

All photos in this diary courtesy of Colin Mace (except Colin behind the wheel: Martin Penny)
 
Rodders is sponsored by Malibu rum! ;-)