The Stranglers + Wind & Brackets @ The Tivoli

The Tivoli is surprisingly full for tonight’s Stranglers show; there wasn’t much in the way of advertising for either the original date (in December, but cancelled with the GFC being blamed) or tonight’s show, and at $90 a ticket it’s a fairly pricey mid-week night out

It’s been a long time I last saw Wind & Brackets, supporting Expatriate with Operator Please at The Globe if I remember correctly.  Even though they’ve got the same personnel, they’ve changed a fair bit since then; they at least look like they’re in the same band and have similar musical interests now, compared to the varied looks they had back in 2007 and there’s a lot more keyboard than I remember (if they had a keyboard at all back then), with the (possible) introduction of said keyboard giving them a sound that makes them a suitable choice for the Stranglers support slot.  Musically they’re solid if a bit unspectacular but go down pretty well with the crowd.  Tommy seems quite nervous or maybe just out of breath when delivering inbetween song banter.  He needs to get rid of the hair flicks he keeps doing though; it’s really off-putting and makes him look like a walking Timotei advert, it’s like he wants to lose himself in the music but is a bit too scared to let go in case it messes his hair up.

Waiting in the photo pit for The Stranglers to start I have a glance at the set list that’s been gaffa-taped to the stage and it’s an impressive list; even I know most of the songs that they are going to play tonight and I’m not a huge fan, with only a copy of ‘No More Heroes‘ representing the band in my record collection.  It’s surprising, being perennially ‘uncool’, just how many hit singles they’ve had.

There’s no Jet Black tonight (unless he’s lost 10 stone and 40 years somewhere…), with post-gig research discovering that Ian Barnard, his drum tech, has temporary taken his place on the drum stool.  The post-gig research also reveals that in addition to illness over the last few years, Jet Black is going to be 71 in August, which explains why he’s not playing many live shows with the band.  With no Jet Black, and with singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell having left (somewhat scarily) almost 2 decades ago, bassist/singer Jean-Jacques Burnel and keyboard player Dave Greenfield are the only original band members on show. With Greenfield hidden behind a wall of keyboards at the back I spend most of my three songs photographing JJ as he struts around the stage, looking in really good shape for his 57 years.  His bass sound, the driving force behind the band, is immense, sounding best on ‘Nice ‘N’ Sleazy‘, ‘Peaches‘ and the ‘No More Heroes‘ encore.  Singer/guitarist is Baz Warne has been with the band long enough (since 2000) to make the position his own and there’s a definite on stage band dynamic, as well as appreciation from the audience, even though for the most part of the night he’s singing Cornwell’s classic songs.  Still, there is a strangeness in Warne’s broad Sunderland accent delivery compared to Cornwell’s familiar, menacing snarl on those songs, so tonight we get the likes of ‘Gullden Brewn‘, ‘Ellweys The Soon‘, but it doesn’t take away from a fun night of nostalgia and reminiscence and an entertaining and enjoyable mid-week night out.

Some more photos on flickr.

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