The Stranglers – Live Review – Leeds O2 Academy
By Emily Lawley, March 2015
Fresh off the back of their incredibly successful, fully sold-out ‘Ruby Anniversary Tour’ in 2014 The Stranglers are back for their 19-date UK ‘March On’ tour. Lead singer Baz Warne promises, when I speak to him before the tour, that the band really are playing better than ever. I went to the at the O2 Academy in Leeds to find out for myself.
With no new material to promote, The Stranglers are simply gigging because they love it – and it shows. Their energy and camaraderie on-stage always gives their performances an edge over other bands. It was at an all-time high at the O2.
JJ Burnel and Baz are the embodiment of cool frontmen, but they’re not afraid to have some fun on stage by joking around and trying to out-‘dance’ each other. The audience always love Dave Greenfield’s party trick of downing his drink whilst playing inexplicably complicated keyboard parts with one hand. Drummer Jet Black’s absence (presumably due to illness) is a real shame and it is not acknowledged by the rest of the band during the gig. This leads to a few of the long-term fans chanting his name throughout the evening. The replacement drummer (who is never ‘introduced’ either) is absolutely fantastic though and nails all of the tracks very impressively.
“Two rapturous encores”
With barely a pause for breath during their set they thunder through 25 songs from their entire back catalogue. It includes tracks that don’t often appear on their set list. As they have such a dedicated following, with many fans attending almost all of their UK gigs every tour, they like to mix it up to entertain the hardcore fans as well as newer faces.
Their seamless transitions between old and new tracks perfectly demonstrates why the band’s huge popularity endures. My personal highlight are, after seeing them live a fair few times over the last few years, from the late seventies/early eighties. Songs such as ‘Duchess’ and ‘Nice in Nice’ really stand out.
The only way to end a gig of this calibre is with a massive bang. This comes in the shape of not one but two rapturous encores comprising their biggest hits: ‘Walk On By’; ‘All Day and All of the Night’; ‘Peaches’ and (of course) ‘No More Heroes’.
The Stranglers never disappoint. But I seriously think this is the best performance I have seen from them yet. That is saying a lot about one of the UK’s best live bands. They are, without question, at the pinnacle of their game.