With a career spanning 44 years which produced 17 albums, all of which hit the UK top 40, The Stranglers brought their definitive tour to the Norwich UEA. A tour compiled of what they class as definitive Stranglers, collating the best of their extensive back catalogue to the stage as a treat for their fans that have been with them over the years.
Special guests Therapy? kicked off the night bringing their heavy alternative guitars and sheer likeable characters to the stage. They constantly interacted with the crowd and done their best to get some form of reaction from a fairly unconvinced crowd. It’s a shame as at a different show they may have gotten a warmer reception. It just felt, however, that they may have been a tad too heavy and too late to be touring with The Stranglers and if it were a decade or two before, I feel like their style would have been welcomed a lot more.
To their credit, they didn’t give up and recline to just playing their set, but carried on allowing their personality to shine through. They dedicated ‘Die Laughing’ to the late Ken Dodd and directly after dedicated ‘Callow’ to Stephen Fry, giving a bit of recognition to the fact he is local to Norwich and has been enduring a tough time with Prostate Cancer.
As their set drew on, showcasing their heavier guitars with some of their songs being more punk than most, lead singer Andy Cairns mentioned that it was drummer Neil Cooper’s birthday asking ‘is there any where to party in Norwich on a Monday night?’ after that was met with a resounding no, he and bassist Michael McKeegan got the crowd to chant ‘Neil, drum like a motherf*cker’ before they rounded off a strong set.
As the lights went down once again for the headliners of the evening, the screens lit up, showing off their recognisable logo, accompanied with photos of each member that has been on the tour posters. The start didn’t quite go as expected, just as lead singer, Baz Warne, was about to launch into the opening song ‘Curfew’, technical difficulties struck with his guitar which was, unfortunately, not working. With the crowd beginning to smirk and look around as to what is happening Warne simply stated ‘oh f*ck off’ to the enjoyment of much of the audience as he was eventually suited with a replacement guitar.
Once Warne’s guitar was sorted, they launched into ‘Curfew’ and then straight into ‘Get a Grip on yourself’ with the screens behind the band accompanied by the lighting showing off the level of production they brought with them for their ‘Definitive’ tour, treating fans to a show of the highest visual order with photos and video appearing on the screens in perfect synchronisation with the music.
For the set itself, it was a mixed affair, a stream of reasonably up beat, melodic songs played out including favourites like ‘Norfolk Coast’ and ‘Peaches’, the flow was then halted as they played ‘Don’t Bring Harry’ which felt a tad premature in the set, slowing the tone right down to a subdued level just as the crowd were beginning to heat up. This pause though did act as a perfect way to go into another fan favourite ‘Golden Brown’ arguably their most famous song, with lighting befitting of the song, the pace soon picked up as did the audience, with reception to each song becoming louder as the night grew on.
For a band full of personality, it was a rather subdued performance, playing each song without much pause in between and without any interaction, it felt like someone pressed play on a greatest hits compilation and that was what you got, their definitive songs but not a definitive performance.