Live Dates

2017
FRANCE
22 November Chateau Rouge, Annemasse Tickets
23 November Ninkasi, Lyon Tickets
25 November La Cigale, Paris Tickets
27 November Le Tetris, Le Havre Tickets
28 November La Carenne, Brest Tickets
29 November Stereolux, Nantes Tickets
30 November Yves Renault, Tours Tickets
2 December Krakatoa, Bordeaux Tickets
3 December Maison de la Musique, Blaye Tickets
2018
NEW ZEALAND
2 February Town Hall, Auckland Tickets
3 February Opera House, Wellington Tickets
AUSTRALIA
6 February Forum, Melbourne Tickets
7 February Tivoli, Brisbane Tickets
8 February Enmore Theatre, Sydney Tickets
10 February Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide Tickets
12 February Astor Theatre, Perth Tickets
IRELAND
1 March Olympia, Dublin Tickets
2 March Big Top, Limerick Tickets
UK
3 March Ulster Hall, Belfast Tickets
6 March O2 Academy, Liverpool Tickets
8 March O2 Academy, Glasgow Tickets
9 March Ironworks, Inverness Tickets
10 March Grand Hall, Kilmarnock Tickets
12 March Rock City, Nottingham Tickets
13 March Guildhall, Portsmouth Tickets
15 March O2 Academy, Bristol Tickets
16 March Tramshed, Cardiff Tickets
17 March O2 Academy, Birmingham Tickets
19 March Nick Rayns LCR, Norwich Tickets
20 March Cliffs Pavilion, Southend Tickets
22 March O2 Academy, Leeds Tickets
23 March Engine Shed, Lincoln Tickets
24 March O2 Academy, Brixton Tickets
26 March GLive, Guildford Tickets
27 March Hexagon, Reading Tickets
29 March O2 Academy, Newcastle Tickets
30 March Corn Exchange, Cambridge Tickets
31 March O2 Apollo, Manchester Tickets

Features

Band tour diary, Summer 2012

It’s been a hectic schedule throughout the summer for the band with 15 festival gigs in the UK and across Europe. As well as six British dates, they played  three in Germany, one in Estonia, three in France, one in Belgium and even made their first ever visit to Turkey. Throughout their summer festival campaign, Baz kindly kept us up to date with regular Tweets about each gig as they happened.  In addition, he also kept a full diary of the dates as well…  

Rock Im Park, Nuremberg, Germany 1st June 2012

So it begins again…and we couldn’t have begun our summer campaign in a more impressive, yet sobering environment…This gig takes place at Zeppelin Park in Nurnberg…the site of the infamous Nazi party rallies of the 1930′s…documented most notably in Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”…a more sinister and darker social piece of film-making you’ll never see I guarantee… A thought not lost on us as we arrive on site around 2pm and take to the stage at 2.35 for a 40 minute set… Brett our guitar tech has had to pull out of this weekend with back trouble so the first person I see is Mikey Jirku, our old tech, who’s flown out at a days’ notice to fill in.. It’s good to see him and he tells us all’s well and we’re ready to roll…and so we do…

Onstage at Rock Im Park

Yahnee starts the kick drum for 5 Minutes and we’re on…We follow that with Lowlands/Sleazy/Boom Boom/Always the Sun/Golden Brown/Peaches/ Hanging Around/All day and all of the Night and No more Heroes…as the set progresses the crowd swells, and by the mid point we have a big crowd who’re loving it…It’s very funny to see Pete Doherty side stage freaking out, shouting and jumping around in his wasted ‘pop star’ way…and we chat briefly after we come off…he’s ok actually…looks like a star but seldom sounds like one… Anyway job done… No patter, our backdrop tells them who we are and we leave to a great reception…bodes well for tomorrow…as I write this we’re in the car drinking primo German beer and heading for Koblenz…it begins…

Rock Am Ring, Nurburgring, Germany 2nd June 2012

This is a legendary place if you like your cars, bikes….and Top Gear….The ghost of uber-oaf Clarkson haunts this place and you can almost see him wetting himself  talking about fuel injection, chicanes and the Stig…

Instead though what you get is a truly amazing spectacle as you enter the site…there’s a huge map of the old circuit on a wall depicting the names of everyone who’s been killed there…and it runs into hundreds…next you actually drive on a portion of the new circuit itself to get to the backstage area…and then you see the size of the place as you crest the rise, and the thousands and thousands of rock, pop and metal loving freaks…and yes, they ALL appear to be wearing black…it’s going to be difficult spotting our fans for once…ha…

Baz & lighting tech Roger

We wait backstage in the lavish surroundings and marvel at the tattoos, hairstyles, and trousers with the arses down to their knees…the piercings and the footwear…and that’s just the Americans…they leave you in no doubt as to what they do because they’re so over the top ‘maaaan’… and we stifle many a snigger as we watch these people falling over themselves to be noticed…but the general vibe backstage is nice and relaxed and as stage time approaches we’re feeling good…

We walk across to the stage as it’s pretty close and as we go on there are again various bands coming to check us out…we see our mate Pete D again, as well as The Rifles, The Macabees and other assorted bands and play another tight set…the same as yesterday… We’re pleased to see the crowds flocking over to see us again (we’re on at 4.30 this time) and again it bodes well for the rest of the summer. These are huge festivals and we’re assured that we’ll be back…have to see won’t we?

Rabarock, Jarvakandi, Estonia  16th June 2012

I love gigs like this…they’re an unknown quantity…you know where you’re going (roughly) but have no real idea about how it’ll be or what the place is like. I’ve never been to any of the Baltic States before…and the last time the band were here was 21 years ago Dave tells me, one of Paul Roberts’ first gigs. A former part of the old Soviet Union, Estonia is the northern most state and lies just south of Finland across the Gulf of Finland…and very beautiful it is too…

We land in Tallinn, the capital and biggest city, on Friday, the day before the gig and 20 minutes later are at the hotel. Half an hour after that we’re all in the bar discussing dinner and seven of us decide to eat in the old town which is five minutes away. We don’t want to stray too far because we all want to be back in time for the England/Sweden game which the hotel is showing in the bar. We do dally a bit though and miss some of the first half but, luckily, there’s a big screen two minutes away and, after watching the remainder of the half outdoors with 1,000 other people, we dash back to the hotel to watch the second. A couple of hours later, victorious and full of celebratory vodka, it’s bedtime.

Jim McCauley

We head for the gig at 6.30 the next evening after a lazy day and, after an hours drive into lovely countryside, are pleased to find a relatively small (10,000) but very nice and professional festival. We’ve been rehearsing for a couple of days running up to this with a different drummer, as Yarnee can’t make many of the summer dates we’re playing and Jet isn’t ready yet either. We’ve brought along Jim McCauley who you may remember as Mike Marlin’s drummer. He is quite superb…not to mention a great lad and he’s the first person I see as we get off the bus… He’s in good spirits, looking good in black (of course) and tells me everything is running to plan.

After a quick line check, we can hear that the band on the other stage has finished and, following a quick announcement from one of the organisers, we hit the stage to the sound of waves and head straight into Freedom is Insane… The crowd come pouring across the field and pretty soon we have a huge sea of smiling faces in front of us… The rain has started but it’s still warm and they really don’t seem to care…thousands of them waving flags (‘Stranglers’ flags to our surprise and delight) and jumping around as if their lives depended on it!

Baz at Rabarock

The sound is punchy and tight and I turn around to see Jim, his face a tight mask of concentration, giving it all he’s got…another great Stranglers drummer… He plays a blinder and, afterwards, is all smiles as we have our traditional champers while towelling off and dissecting the show as we always do. We all clamber onto the bus an hour later, drink everything that’s on there on the journey back, sit outside the hotel for one last beer in the half light (it doesn’t get fully dark this far north in the summer) then merrily tootle off to bed and into a black hole of sleep. A definite away win for us tonight…

Isle Of Wight festival 21st June 2012

There are just some things that will be…you can’t change them, even though all the portents are there and you can feel it in your bones… And so it goes with this year’s Isle of Wight festival…

To say this started as a disaster would be putting it mildly. To start with, the transport situation was a farce. The authorities decided to re-route most of the roads in the vicinity of the festival, and made them all one way… This resulted in bottlenecks and jams of biblical proportions, with people not being able to get anywhere at all…and the police shutting down the ferries coming in from the mainland because they were depositing traffic and people onto the dockside who had nowhere to go…the roads were literally full… Add to this the deplorable weather…pissing down relentlessly and the mud that seemed to get everywhere and you had the recipe for a typical British music festival. No contingencies had been made for the weather or volumes of people expected… pathetic really when you think how old and established this festival is supposed to be…

None of this phases us really though because we all come in on the Wednesday night and are snug and warm while the whole debacle unfolds…We’re playing the pre-festival gig on Thursday that’s become a bit of a tradition here in recent years, along with Primal Scream and, as we arrive on site, it all looks grim…the mud and even the traffic system on the site is a joke, and it takes half an hour to get to the dressing rooms, which are about 300 yards from the Big Top stage we’re playing on. We eventually get there and as we’re settling and relaxing, we hear that the first band who’re on tonight have been the victims of the cock-ups with the ferries and haven’t even made it off the mainland. We offer to go on early, extend our set by 15 minutes…and help… There then follows an amazing ‘too many chiefs and not enough indians’ scenario that becomes funnier with each passing minute… I won’t bore you, dear reader, with the blow by blow details but suffice to say the incompetence displayed by the people ‘in charge’ was dizzying…messages back and forth, second hand, third hand and all points in between…We get the green light to go eventually and, just as we’re pulling away to go to the stage, we see Brett our guitar tech running up the hill waving his arms saying there’s been a ‘show stop’… The high winds have pulled up a section of the tent and the marshall has evacuated it…15,000 people out in the rain again while they try to pull the section down and sit the wind out for another half an hour…turns out the tent can withstand winds of 55mph…and it’s 60mph…cor….

Louie's eye view-IOW

So we go back into the dressing room and wait again… After much to-ing and fro-ing between our road manager and the staff, we eventually take to the stage at 10 minutes past 9…an hour and ten minutes late…and what a show it is… A huge crowd greet us like long lost heroes and we plough through a very tight and compact hour…making all the bullshit of the day very much worth it. These things are sent to try us…and we get an amazing reaction from the crowd which makes us all smile from ear to ear…something that doesn’t happen much with us…ha…

JJ and Dave have the last laugh too as Big Al, our driver and an Isle of Wight native, uses his local knowledge to go to the far side of the island to a small port where the ferries are running just fine and whisks them away. They’re back on the mainland in no time…I stay the night and catch my flight from Southampton home just fine too…all’s well that ends well…another result….

Hop Farm festival, Kent 29th June 2012

We don’t really know too much about this one to be honest. It’s a fairly new festival I’m told and so we go expecting something sort of semi-pro and in the fledgling stages…and it’s kind of like that. We have a bit of trouble with passes for people and stuff but, on the whole, it’s ok…Portacabins and pretty much our whole rider…oh and about 10,000 people in the big top to see us…

Hop Farm is some kind of Kent tourist attraction with animals and stalls and various other country pursuits and it’s a very nice setting actually…and, for once, it’s not raining! My favourite band of the moment The Futureheads are on before us (another fave of mine, Field Music, are on another stage at the same time and so I don’t get to see them which is a bit of a bummer) and I stand at the side of the stage beaming at them as they deliver their inimitable brand of high energy guitar brat rock, with four part harmonies and bags of swagger and attitude… Well, they are Mackems (as are Field Music) so what did you expect? Ha….

I have to stress that, while the Sunderland connection is obviously how I met both bands, it’s by no means why I like them…there are some bands in my home town that I don’t care for. They are both superb and, if you don’t believe me, check them out on You Tube and the like…but preferably live which is really where they shine…I saw The Futureheads a couple of weeks ago supporting the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I have to say they were easily the band of the day…they sound truly enormous…

Bob The Builder spotted in the Hop Farm crowd…

Anyway enough…We take to the stage half an hour after they come off and deliver a polished and tight performance. Jim, our ‘stand in drummer’ is really getting to grips with stuff now and we’re very pleased with the way the gig goes …huge reactions and responses greet each song (even stuff like Rise of the Robots which I’m sure most of them have never heard) and, by the end, we’ve all got a healthy sweat on and are looking forward to a towel down and a drink… As we leave the stage all of The Futureheads and the stage and band crews are there to greet us and, as we walk off, there are smiles and pats on the back all round… job done!

Our crew have told us that when they arrive at these festivals to start setting up for us, they’re increasingly treated like royalty…all the other band crews hold them in awe as they work for The Stranglers and all want to meet them and express their appreciation for the band and crew alike… When we arrive and walk up to play, the sides of the stage are packed with local and pro crews and other bands to watch us play…and they all come up afterwards with thanks and praise…very nice to know how much affection this band is still held in and it gladdens our hearts…

La Fete du Cognac, Cognac, France 28th July 2012

This is a street festival and we haven’t done one of these in quite a while… Cognac, as the name implies, is where the drink originates and where you’ll find many a fine example…Our hotel is situated on the outskirts of town and, on entering the lobby, the huge display case in the doorway is testament to the many different varities, strengths…and prices…£1,000 for a bottle of vintage XO anyone? Dave, understandably, is chuffed and he studies the case for any he may not have had before…and there’s not many… The town itself, as you’d expect, is a delight and the stage and green area are nestled beside the river Charente which flows on down towards Rochefort, where it eventually flows out into the Atlantic…all in all, it’s a beautiful spot.

Cognac-July 2012

We’re on at around 11.15pm for a longer 90 minute set to close the Saturday. We’re told to expect around 10,000 and can’t for the life of us figure how they’ll all fit in front of the stage area..and the quick answer is that they don’t…they fan out all around the sides of the stage and up a long boulevard which disappears over a hill, at the top of which can just be made out a giant screen with a huge crowd gathered around it…it makes for an impressive sight and we steam into the set with gusto… Jim, our present stand in drummer has been playing with us all summer and he’s really finding his feet now…and he’s rivalling me in the gurning department too…that boy can pull some faces…

It feels really tight and cohesive as we play tonight…the sound onstage is superb and Louie out front has expressed undying love for the P.A….so all systems go…We feel very pleased at the end and feel our encores are deserved to be honest…

Onstage in Cognac

Back at the hotel we have a party in the bar…as it’s pretty much in the sticks there isn’t a barman or even a night porter to be seen, so we bring back all manner of wines,brandy and nibbles and sit with the whole crew and our French promo people and reflect on the weekend…

We’re playing in France quite a bit over the coming weeks so hopefully it’s a good omen for things to come…

La Fete du Bruit, Landerneau, France 11th August 2012

Landernau is a small agricultural market town just outside of Brest on the extreme west point of Brittany, France…and it’s a swine to get to… My day starts at 6 in the morning when I get up for an early flight to London. I’m met at the airport by a smiling JJ who picks me up and takes me back to his place for breakfast…a nice start to the day. Big Al and Dave G turn up at 1 and we drive down to Portsmouth to catch the Seacat across to Cherbourg…then it’s a 255 mile drive to Landernau…which we reach eventually at 1 in the morning…long day.

After a fairly long lie in, we meet in the lobby of the hotel and head down to check the site out and have some lunch. It’s a pretty spot right next to the river, which, I later learn, is the Elorn and they’re expecting a very healthy crowd to start turning up mid afternoon…which happens…around 15,000 of them…

Landerneau, Brittany

Because we’re playing Brussels the next day which is a 550 mile drive, it’s arranged for us to go on at tea time rather than the 11 pm spot which was originally mooted, so we can drive overnight and ultimately make the Belgian show without resembling the walking dead by the time we get there… So we take the stage at 4.45 for an hour set and, as seems to be the thing with us at the moment, we storm it… It’s hard to get a fag paper between JJ and Jim…they’re so tight after all the recent shows and are really making life very easy for Dave and I…and, all in all, it’s another great gig…

Sitting having dinner afterwards, it’s all smiles and we’re in good shape for the next day…even after a very long drive aboard the tour bus which whisks us through the night towards Brussels…thank god someone thought to bring a shedload of quality French red to ease our ‘pain’…ha…

Brussels Summer Festival, Brussels, Belgium 12th August 2012

I wake up in the morning to the muffled sounds of a tune being sound checked on the stage next to where we parked up when we arrived at 7 in the morning… I think I know what it is through my half sleep coma but it seems very distant even though I can feel the kick drum vibrating through the bus and ultimately my spine… I then realise that, drunk as I was the night before, I still remembered my essential tour bus kit…earplugs…which I vaguely recall ramming into my ears in a valiant effort to get some sleep around 4 earlier in the morning…I pull them out and immediately recognise the chord sequence of ‘The Passenger’…it’s then I remember we’re playing with Iggy Pop…I listen and it sounds really good…a roadie doing a passable impression of Iggy himself with the vocal…

I venture out for a reccy and am staggered by the view which greets me from the stage…the gig is situated in the grounds of the Belgian Royal palace and a huge plaza and park surrounds the whole area…it’s breath taking and I take a few snaps for posterity…

View from the stage in Brussels pre-gig

After lunch and a siesta at the hotel, we head down for the show. JJ has been here for an hour already doing interviews, so Dave and I get down around 6.30 for the 7.30 show… There’s a huge crowd (20,000 we’re told) and it’s 35 degrees onstage…the sun shining directly into our eyes as it begins its slow descent…We plough into the first number and quickly adjust to the sound and stage…as usual with these great gigs, an hour flies by and, in a trice it seems, we’re finished and towelling down in the cool retreat of the dressing room after another really pleasing display…

A pleasant surprise then unfolds as we get a knock on the door and Max (“make their ears bleed Max”!) Bisgrove walks in to say hello…he does front of house sound for Iggy at the moment and it’s really nice to see him…been a while…he says how great Iggy’s shows are and I’m tempted to stay and check it out, but after two days of excessive travelling I’m feeling it and decide to head back to the hotel and get a proper night’s sleep… I’m the only one staying the night as I can get a direct flight back to Newcastle from Brussels…the others heading back through the night to get a late train through the tunnel back to England…so I make the most of the solitude and fall into a black hole for 10 hours…another very worthwhile and rewarding weekend…

Die Arzte support, Berlin, Germany 17th August 2012

This turns out to be an almighty weekend…huge audiences and very early mornings…

I wake up at 5.30 on the morning of the 16th to get an early flight to Heathrow to meet the boys for the Berlin flight. It’s one of those days where it seems like an eternity before we get there but, after landing sometime around 4 in the afternoon, I finally get to my room and rest. The next day seems to go in a blur as I’m a bit disorientated and can’t seem to shake it…I think things are starting to catch up with me…That all disappears though when we reach the venue for the evening’s gig and take in the scale of where we are and who we’ll be playing to.

Louie's panorama

Die Arzte are a German punk band of some standing…they’ve been together for over 30 years and are huge stars in their native land, despite never making any kind of impact elsewhere in the world…and I confess to never even hearing of them until we were asked to do this show. They’ve chosen to stage this, the first of three concerts in their home town Berlin, at the Waldbuhne, which is the amphitheatre Hitler had built as part of the 1936 Berlin Olympics…and it’s an amazingly impressive, ominous and, dare I say it, still quite spooky place to be…As we arrive, it’s starting to fill up with what will eventually be 22,000 people…(they’ve sold out all three nights here) but, when the crew arrived earlier in the day and it was empty, they said it was very eerie indeed…and it’s easy to see why…

Gratuitous Berlin crowd shot

The three members of Die Arzte (The Doctors) come backstage to meet us as we are there by their very special request and they’re armed with albums and CD’s of ours to sign…they are huge fans and, as we’re about to go on, the three of them actually take to the stage to introduce us personally…a very nice touch…the place erupts when they’re spotted and, as we walk on after their introduction, we finally get the full atmosphere of the place first hand and it takes the breath away…it is absolutely crammed and designed in such a way that you can see each and every one of the massive crowd in there…right up to the gods where the people are mere ants…woah…We blast through a very tight and punchy 40 minutes and are given a terrific response from the crowd…We don’t have much depth to work with stage wise but it’s very wide on my side and so I go for a stroll from time to time out to the wings to say hello to the folks out there and am greeted very warmly every time I do so…lovely.

We regrettably can’t make Die Arzte’s aftershow party in Berlin because we’re up at 4.30 to make a 7.00am flight to Manchester the next morning…we could have just stayed up which crosses my mind but professionalism prevails and we go to bed…can’t sleep though…sods law…

V Festival, Stafford 18th August 2012

Five hours later and here we are backstage at V in Staffordshire ready to take the stage at 12.10…very surreal… A tour bus picks us up from Manchester and I manage to get a couple of hours sleep before I realise we’re at the next gig. We’re met with the usual round of crews, roadies and liggers…the hangers on just seem to get more proliferate with each passing year…there are so many that it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish them from the ‘bands’…I think I must just be getting old because there are so many acts and people here to perform that I’ve never heard of…and probably never will again…lots of girls singers with hard to pronounce names who all desperately need to cash in on their 15 minutes before it all goes tits up…

Lunchtime in Weston Park
 

Thankfully we don’t have too much time to dwell on it because we’re opening up the main stage, as we did in 2008 and so, without further ado, we’re on…and it’s great… We’re greeted by 40,000 bleary eyed folk who give us a heroes welcome and we thoroughly enjoy our set before ‘coitus interruptus’, as JJ calls it, strikes and we’re off stage after a very short set…you just start to get into it and it’s over…ah well…gotta let the divas get on with their backing tapes…

V Festival, Chelmsford 19th August 2012

After a journey down to Stansted and a nice night in a hotel, we’re ready to take on the rigours of an early Sunday crowd at Chelmsford…I don’t like lunch time gigs…it doesn’t feel right playing an hour after you’ve got up…but someone has to do it… As we seem to be just about the only people there who don’t need make up, throat tea or pampering, who just roll up their sleeves and get on with it, it might as well be us… So we play and, again, it’s great but the crowd are feeling it now after a weekend of getting it on and such like so there are around 15,000 out of their tents along to see us, which is nice and we play as well as ever…rise above it lads…ha…

V Festival-Chelmsford

There’s a diva in the next cabin…someone from X Factor or some other such bollocks and she has a yappy accessory dog…the sort you just hate with a passion…and, as she goes off to ‘play’, she leaves it in the dressing room…and it goes nuts… So we scream at it to shut the fuck up…and it does, much to everyone’s amazement…and that’s probably the funniest part of the day…we tried to get to it through an adjoining door which is regrettably locked, as one of the crew is hungry, but it lives to yap another day…much like it’s owner…

Long, long, very worthwhile weekend…

Woodstower festival, Lyon, France 25th August 2012

And so it keeps going… After Chelmsford V, I’d gone back in to London to help our mate Mike Marlin with a bit of recording…and, as it turned out, a lot of drinking too… So it was a none too fresh me that embarked on the journey to Stansted with Jim to catch the flight to Lyon… There was only Dave G, Jim, myself and Lee (our sometime TM) and, after a breakfast hot dog and bucket of lukewarm coffee, I felt ready to start the day.

Following an uneventful flight, we arrive in Lyon and are driven to the hotel to meet up with everyone else for dinner… I’ve always liked these band/crew meals… There’s usually about 12/15 of us and it gives the whole thing a sense of occasion… The wine flows and we get to properly catch up with each other and have a good natter and craic… Also, afterwards, it gives you a great opportunity to wallow in a drunken haze and get a good night’s sleep…which also happens…

The next day JJ, myself and Lee wander down the road to a restaurant for lunch and an encounter with a waiter who, on the face of it, seems to be the world’s grumpiest old bugger but who turns out to be very dry of wit and great for the best food recommendations… He also is a trifle shaky due to something or other and, when bringing drinks, the whole thing teeters on the edge of a Laurel and Hardy film. He hovers above our heads with beers and bottles of wine and water and we hold our breath to see who’ll be the first one to wear lunch instead of eating it…but he’s great and never spills a drop…even when we go back the next day for seconds…ha…

JJ at Woodstower-photo oceanofnoise.fr

But, to the gig… We’re on at 9.30 in the big top and this turns out to be one of the highlights of the summer so far for all of us… It’s not a huge crowd…it’s actually not a huge festival…but we pull in probably 5,000 & pack the tent to capacity. We proceed to play one of our best festival sets yet… Sometimes you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is that can make a gig special…great crowd, lovely intimate stage setting, great lights and P.A…. This gig has all of those but there’s a definite vibe to it, without sounding too cosmic, maaan, that really sets it apart… It’s apparent from the moment we hit the stage and it lifts us to perform a superb tight and punchy hour set… We’re drenched through afterwards, even Dave and, over a glass of shampoo, we’re in great spirits…

We have difficulty getting off the site as the crowds swarm around the people carrier we’re in and yell their approval through the windows, banging on the roof and generally letting us know they loved it…nice one… This is a very young festival, having only been going a handful of years but, if it continues in this spirit, with volunteers helping out everywhere and the crowd getting behind all the acts appearing, it shouldn’t be too many more years before it starts to attract bigger crowds and more mainstream bands and acts…whilst hopefully keeping the lovely spirit that this place has…keep an eye out for this one…

Jersey Live festival, Channel Islands 2nd September 2012

Been looking forward to this one…haven’t been here since 2002 with Paul Roberts when we did a couple of gigs with Stiff Little Fingers on Jersey and Guernsey…

Quite a view…Jersey '12

There was a bit of bother at the last Jersey gig and, as I sit waiting in Newcastle airport for my flight, my mind wanders back to it and I wonder if the likely lads that caused it might turn up and want to try again… As I’m thinking all this, I glance around the departure lounge at my fellow travellers and realise with a start that I’m probably the youngest person there… There’s a sea of grey hair and doddering people in beige and sandals and I exclaim (in my head) that I seem to be heading for God’s waiting room…oh man…can’t recall ever getting a flight with 25 Victor Meldrews and his spouse(s)…where am I going!?

I needn’t have worried…obviously… The festival is quite a young one at around 9-10 years old but it still attracts 10-15,000 people to a lovely hollow on the top of the island and really, if it gets any bigger, it would probably lose the vibe…  As it is, it’s not that easy to get to really, I think it’ll stay the same size for the forseeable future..which is a good thing…

That Jersey backdrop!

We go on at 5.45 before Primal Scream and Noel Gallagher and hit the crowd just at the right time… There’s a great cross section of young and old and right from the start we have them in the palm of our hands… We’ve been playing very regularly right over the summer and it really shows…it feels tight and effortless and we all enjoy it immensely…

Afterwards we towel down and are greeted by a series of knocks on the dressing room door from various people for autographs and to tell us how much they enjoyed the show… And it’s nice to know sometimes that there are people watching us from the side of the stage thinking “shit…how do we follow that?”

On Fair festival, Istanbul, Turkey 15th September 2012

First off I want to say that I have never, in all my years of travelling, ever been to a city remotely like this…and I’ve been to a few…but I’ve always wanted to visit… The history and downright strangeness of the place being as much of a magnet as anything else…but nothing that you’ve ever seen, read or heard can prepare you for the city itself… Of course, its relevance as a strategic military location has long been of great importance…but this isn’t a history lesson…if you want to know of those kinds of things you speak to JJ…his capacity to furnish you with endless names, dates, places and facts knows no bounds so, needless to say, he’s captivated by the place and can tell you pretty much what you want to know at the drop of a hat…he’s in his element here…

We arrive in this hot sweltering cauldron of a city, with its 17,000,000 inhabitants, on Friday evening and, after a quick freshen up, immediately go for dinner…we can’t wait for some authentic Turkish cuisine…actually in Turkey… and Louie, our sound man, exclaims that he’s in ‘Kebabylon’…heheh… We find a lively little Mezze restaurant and agree to let the management ‘feed’ us with their recommendations…suffice it to say that within 20 minutes the table is full to bursting…and 30 minutes after that we all are too… And then comes the truly amazing part of the night…

The promoters’ rep Effe startles us all by saying that there is a gig going on in town at the same venue we’ll be playing tomorrow night and that we’re all invited as their guests. After all the travelling and food what we really want to do is go back to the hotel and crash…but that all changes when he tells us that there’s already a bus laid on and that the gig is Stevie Wonder! Right in the heart of Istanbul…so we go…all of us…and stand open mouthed singing along with big shit eating grins and no self conciousness at all…and why would we? He’s one of the biggest stars of all time and we’re all fans…his set list is the ultimate juke box and save for ‘I just called to say I love you’, which has always made me feel quite billious…every one is a winner…a lovely end to a very long day…

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

The next day a couple of us decide to go into the city and do some sightseeing and, armed with maps, we set off… After a taxi ride to the Ayasofia, the famous Byzantine Greek church that you always see on documentaries and is arguably one of the most famous landmarks in the world (for more info ask JJ!) and the Blue Mosque which is literally next door and which are both utterly jaw dropping…we retire to a rooftop terrace, and its blessed shade, for lunch… We order spicy lamb salads and, just as they arrive, the loud speakers at the Blue Mosque kick up and the faithful of the city are called to prayer…all of you I’m sure will know this from the intro to Shah Shah A Gogo…but let me assure you that there’s no substitute for hearing it live…eerie is not the word! As I’m sitting there listening, it occurs to me that I really should record it…so I jump up and start fiddling with my phone…only for it to stop…bollocks…

We then head to the Grand Bazaar which is 600 years old and comprises over three and a half thousand shops and stalls… Mikey, our guitar tech, has been here before buying a leather jacket, which is something I’m after, so in no time I find myself in a shop with it’s owner Achmed (no really) and his two sons, being regaled of his exploits in the west, drinking sweet Turkish tea and trying on endless coats… I eventually settle on a beauty and, after a little haggling, which is expected, I walk away with my prize…expensive all the same but well worth it… His eldest son then leads us out of the market as people regularly get lost here…the place attracts on average 2,000,000 people on a normal weekend so there are bound to be a few casualties and getting out is truly a feat. We walk for at least half a mile in a huge sweltering jostling crowd and eventually find ourselves, after a visit to a gents public toilet (right near a huge bridge with at least 100 people fishing from the top, despite the water being at least 50 or more feet down…and stiflingly hot…and I can still smell it…piss and fish…truly nasty) embarking on a white knuckle ride of epic proportions in a city cab through the labyrinths of the old town back to the hotel for a quick wash and change before heading to the gig…that driver was a hero…talk about ‘The Knowledge’…

On Stage at On Fair

As I mentioned earlier, the show is right in the heart of the city and, after JJ and I do a few interviews for local TV and radio, it’s time to play… We’re doing a 90 minute set tonight which is long considering we’re the penultimate act and, by our own admission, we’re a little rusty by our standards, not having done this length of set for 2 months but we triumph in the end and thoroughly enjoy it…a lot of fun… I personally love playing to a virgin Stranglers crowd and, never having been here before, we really give it some…there’s great production and the sound and lights are spot on…. It’s weird playing in the middle of skyscrapers and flyovers to a big crowd and, as usual, we have members of other bands and their crews watching us from the side of the stage…the air is warm and still and the whole thing makes for a slightly surreal evening…but no less enjoyable for it…

After towelling down, a quick drink and signing a few autographs and photos, we head back for a late supper to a small restaurant across from the hotel… Eating alfresco we’re reminded of what a never ending 24 hour place this is…the car horns are deafening and you can hardly hear yourself think, never mind talk…but we have a nice light meal and, after one last quick drink in the hotel bar, it’s off to bed…and not before time…I’m knackered…

If you like your cities fast, loud and unpredictable I urge you to visit Istanbul…it is in turns exhausting, exhilarating and demoralising…vibrant, beautiful and ugly…steeped in history and awe inspiring architecture…and, if you’re driving, add at least an hour to every journey…but it’s never less than compelling and thoroughly entertaining…and I’m so pleased we went… Going there brought to mind the old saying ‘It’s a great place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there…’

Looe Music festival, Cornwall 23rd September 2012

They say that into every life a little rain must fall…and Looe certainly didn’t disappoint on that score… I suppose, after the great summer we had, it had to happen really and this, our last show of the festival season, was as sodden as it could ever get…

The portents weren’t good to be honest and we’d had people telling us all week in the run up that the weather was going to break and that hurricanes and all other manners of nonsense were heading our way…we hadn’t seen the famous Stranglers black cloud for a while and we considered that this could possibly be a show too far…and so it very nearly proved…

It started for me on the Friday morning as I got a flight down to Exeter and the prevailing winds bumped the little Dash 800 around like a paper cup swirling around in a storm drain as we came in to land…not good… I was picked up by Kev, our long time monitor engineer, at the airport to spend the evening with him and his family before driving across to Looe, which is about 20 miles from Kev’s home in Plymouth, the following day. I really wanted to spend some time with him as this was his last gig with the band after seven years of active service and he’s become a very dear friend to me. He’s exactly a week older than me and  many joint tour birthday bashes have ensued over the years and we actually plan to spend a joint 50th together…if we get that far of course… As I get through and into the lounge, he’s waiting with a sign he’s made at home proclaiming “Mr Barry Warne-The Sparklers”…and I actually blush as I approach him…the twat…Still going to miss him hugely though…

After a lovely evening at his place, we drive over to Looe on Saturday afternoon using the Torpoint Ferry which I love…it’s an old chain drive system that noisily pulls the boat over the entrance to Plymouth Sound to the Cornish side and it’s fab…better than the boring old M5 any day… After a bit of sightseeing and an ice cream, we pull into Looe and I’m dropped off at the hotel…I’ve come the furthest distance by far and still I’m the first one here…ha…

In January 2005, JJ and I spent three months here writing and recording demos for what eventually became Suite 16 and, as I look out of my hotel room window, a few memories come flooding back… We made a few friends here and thoroughly enjoyed the solitude and beauty of the place too…inspiration came pretty quick in Looe I have to say…

The calm before the storm-Looe

After a nice Saturday evening where we all get together for dinner in Kevin’s honour, it’s a relatively early night for us all…and wondering what the next day will bring… We all reconvene at lunchtime the following day to go to a nice fish restaurant that JJ and I remember from our previous visit… Neither of us have been here since but very little has changed, and, as we sit down, all eyes and thoughts are outside monitoring the weather, which is taunting us with lulls every now and then… After lunch, it’s back to hotel…to wait…and wait…and wait…

The health and safety people have been down to check the situation…and, of course, our crew and management won’t let us anywhere near the stage until they’re more than satisfied…and eventually…they are… And so we take the stage at 8.00…and it’s absolutely pissing down…torrential in fact… I’m getting the wettest of the lot because of the direction of the wind and rain and the angle of the stage and, as I walk across to pick up my guitar, I’m thinking “Is that mine? Looks funny”… If you’ve ever seen us in a sweatbox and, I know you all have, you’ll maybe have noticed that the hotter I get and the more I sweat, my guitar changes colour…the finish absorbs sweat and moisture and turns it grey…we’ve never been able to work out exactly why it happens, just that it does…and it’s become a kind of barometer over the years…”Did Baz’s guitar change colour? Must’ve been a hot one then”… But obviously rain works as well and my guitar is absolutely soaked before I even pick it up…and solid grey… and, if you’ve ever wondered why guitarists don’t get electric shocks playing out in the rain (as quite a few people did after the gig), it’s because we use signal transmitters instead of old fashioned guitar leads…you need to be connected to the amp via a lead and to complete the circuit by touching your mouth to the microphone…that’s where you get the wallop…it usually only happens in dodgy old clubs with bad wiring and poor earthing anyway…and I should know…got knocked back through a drumkit in a dive many years ago…15 feet behind me…it hurt…

Baz through the rain-photo Moonshadow Photography

None of this seems to phase the 5000 people standing on the beach, actually on the sand, who’ve come to see us though and, from the off ,they’re well and truly having it… Shirts are off, arms are held aloft and the rain just keeps coming…we see the St Johns Ambulance folk wading in and it turns out that someone has climbed onto someone’s shoulders and broken their collarbone…right there in the mosh pit…people are being pulled out and everyone is dancing, grinning and singing their hearts out…I look up to the flats and houses overlooking the bay we’re in and see little ant like folk in the warmth and safety of their living rooms, a good quarter of a mile away, pogoing and jumping around…and to my right the sea…the tide getting ever closer and threatening to wash us all away… All in all, a very surreal and strange gig…but fantastic all the same…and we totally enjoy it…as we have the whole summer…

Kevin Fortescue-Smythe Allen-seven years active service. Thanks from us all x

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What a summer… We’ve played all over Europe, met some very interesting people, played some superb shows and enjoyed ourselves immensely doing it…and, if you saw us, we hope you did too…

And next year? More of the same hopefully… See ya….

Thanks to Baz for such a marathon effort across the whole summer providing us with updates and blogs after each gig that the band played….

 Photos courtesy of Baz, Louie Nicastro, Toby O’Pray and other crew members

Louie's laminates

 

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