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

 

Gig archive

 

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Ugly, Guildford, 1978

history: 1991-behold the stranglers mark ii

22nd February 2012

 

New line up 1991

In the autumn of 1990, the Daily Mirror carried the shocking news that Hugh Cornwell, the original singer & guitarist, had decided to leave The Stranglers. Fans were devasted, many believing that this would spell the end for the band...

In 1990, to the outside observer, all seemed well in the band's ranks and they were definitely having a resurgence. They had released a new album 10 which they promoted with large UK and European tours and even scored a chart hit with their cover of ? & the Mysterians' 96 Tears. Plans were made for an autumn tour of the States, a territory they were hoping to conquer as their album had been produced in an AOR rock style specifically geared for that market.

Internally, things were less rosy and, during the heavy 1990 gig itinerary, the cracks had started to show, especially between JJ and Hugh. By the end of the European tour, the pair weren't speaking and they would only play a further three gigs together. The US tour plans were scrapped and, following the now legendary final gig at Alexandra Palace, Hugh announced by phone to his fellow band members of sixteen years that he was leaving The Stranglers. It seemed like the death knell for the band...

John Ellis LeedsFeeling there was still more for the group to achieve, the three remaining members met up immediately and agreed to carry on. John Ellis, long term friend of the band and fellow Purple Helmet alongside Dave and JJ, had already been drafted in to the band as an extra guitarist on all the dates in 1990. He was a ready-made and suitable replacement on guitar.

In the latter months of 1990, the quartet started working on some new material which included the Blade Runner inspired Time To Die and the Amsterdam influenced Coffee Shop (then oddly under the working title of 'Spag Wes'-short for Spaghetti Western).

The search was on for a suitable singer and word was put out through music business channels. A few name candidates auditioned for the role, notably Ian McNabb (of the Icicle Works) and Boo Hewerdine (of The Bible). Music papers even mentioned Dave Vanian and Joe Strummer as possible candidates. But, it was an unknown singer from West London called Paul Roberts that caught the band's attention. He even had the audacity to actually announce that he was their new singer when he went to the audition! The band liked both his cocky attitude and his singing style. He was offered the job straight away.

The winter was a busy time for the band and they were writing and rehearsing constantly. They had big plans for their public unveiling as a five piece in the new year and a busy schedule of UK gigs were booked for the spring. At the very end of 1990, the first TV appearance for the mark II band was as a four piece, without Paul, performing Something Better Change on British youth programme 'The Word'. The news stories and photographic evidence of the new line up finally appeared in music papers in late January 1991.

At the end of February, immediately prior to the UK tour, the five piece made their live debut playing two nights at the 2,000 capacity Rodon Club in Athens, Greece. The setlist consisted of a handful of new songs, some hits and many older classics.

Rodon Club poster

Poster for Rodon Club gigs-mark II's live debut

The significance of that pair of gigs seemed lost on the majority of the Greek audience in attendance. They almost seemed oblivious to the personnel changes on stage. Despite having an extra member, the line up felt stripped down as the familiar brass section had gone. The stage dynamic had changed too. Previously, with two lead singers, there had been no particular focal point for people's attention. Now, a younger and more mobile vocalist moved around the stage, worked the crowd and commanded your attention. At the time, JJ described the new format as 'a shot in the arm' for the band.

1991 UK tour laminateAfter the Rodon gigs, the band returned to the UK for what was to be the real test-a tour in front of their own partisan crowd. The Heaven Or Hell tour consisted of 15 dates around England and Scotland with no London date. To keep the tour low-key, the venues were considerably more intimate than those the previous year and the average capacity was around 500 compared to about 2,500 on the 10 tour.

Home debut-WindsorTheir debut on home soil was at The Old Trout, a pub venue on the banks of the Thames in Windsor. Eager to check out the band as a five piece, it saw many fans travel from all over the UK to witness the first gig of the new era for the band. As the tour travelled around the country, reactions were varied but mostly very encouraging. Paul's onstage antics occasionally drew Iggy Pop/Julian Cope comparisons from fans whilst many others loved his dynamic performance immediately.

Paul in your face!Unfortunately, some fans came to gigs with an axe to grind. Any anger or frustration was solely directed at Paul who coped admirably with the verbal (and occasionally physical) abuse. At the mirror-lined nightclub Goldwyns in Birmingham, some fan insisted on spitting at him during the gig, the band stopped playing and the perpetrator was dealt with accordingly.

North of the border, the Scottish fans took to Paul immediately and the gigs at Glasgow King Tut's and Edinburgh Venue were packed to the rafters, sweaty and incredibly vocal. On both nights, crowd favourite Toiler was actually drowned out by the audience's singing!

As the tour reached its finale in Loughborough-of all places- crowd responses had been very positive and an extra pair of dates had been quickly added including the Town & Country Club in North London. As the tour ended, the band were incredibly positive, feeling that they had passed their first real test with flying colours.

They then moved into the studio to start work on recording some of the material which would make up their 11th album, the first for the new line up. They had been very prolific since late 1990 and both Paul and John had contributed songs for the band. As their deal with Epic had come to an end with Hugh's departure, they decided to release the next album on their own label 'Psycho', which would be distributed through China. (This was an area fraught with difficulties and the release of In The Night was delayed until autumn 1992).

PR & JE ToulouseJJ & Paul France

Live shots from Toulouse June '91

Vitrolles ticketIn June, the band went back out on the road and crossed the Channel for a nine date European tour. They visited Switzerland, Italy, France and Holland before culminating with a gig at Brixton Academy. In Europe, the venue capacities had remained the same size as a year previously. The brief tour included a couple of festival dates and an amazing gig in the garden of the Palais Royale in Paris. HMV signing

On their return to the UK, the band travelled to London for a signing session for the Greatest Hits compilation (which was still riding high in the charts) before that evening's gig in Brixton. Despite some initial concerns about the cavernous size of the Academy, the gig was packed out. This confirmed that the band had held on to their fan base through those uncertain times.

Simple Minds tickets A couple of European festivals followed in July, one in Switzerland and a massive Freedom rally in Estonia to over 100,000 people. In August, following a warm up in Leeds, they appeared as support to Simple Minds for a trio of huge stadium gigs in Manchester, Gateshead and Milton Keynes. Despite it not being 'their' crowd, the band went down very well at each of the gigs. The Milton Keynes performance was even broadcast live on Radio 1.

Meisenthal ticket

To conclude 1991, the band played two festivals in France and they then travelled to Portugal for a pair of dates in 4,000-6,000 capacity venues where they went down a storm. It was a fitting end to the year.

So, following the departure of their original singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell, the band had regrouped and reinvented themselves as a five piece. To change a band's original line up after 16 successful years together seemed to be guaranteed commercial suicide. However, and true to their previous form, The Stranglers had flourished in the face of adversity and had come out fighting. Ever the survivors, Hugh's departure proved to be the end of one era and the beginning of another...

A full gig listing for 1991 can be found here

JJ in full flight, Toulouse

JJ in full flight, Toulouse '91