Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Stranglers at The Godiva Festival

The Stranglers at The Godiva Festival
by Pete Clemons

A reported 36,000 people attended the Godiva Festival on its opening day. With a maximum capacity of 3000 allowed in the Rhythm tent and a similar assumed capacity for the Paradise tent then, by my reckoning, that was an awful lot of people who had come to see Friday night’s headliners The Stranglers.

To be fair though, the steadily growing crowd had been suitably warmed up by some really good and appreciative performances by, firstly, local band The Institutes - who to their credit have not been together a year and yet put in a very impressive shift - and also Tom Williams and Cast completing the line-up.

The background sounds of Waltzinblack heralded the Stranglers onto the stage where they quickly broke into ‘Toiler on the Sea’ from the Black and White album. Next up came the band’s first ever single ‘Get a Grip on Yourself’ followed by another single released during the Black and White album era ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’.

It was an incredible start. But the audience reaction seemed to hit fever pitch when they heard the first strains of the classic ‘Golden Brown’. On the back of that came another popular tune from The Stranglers 1980s period ‘Always the Sun’, a tune popularised by a film I was later informed.

The crowd settled down again when the Stranglers played a less familiar tune, the more recent ‘Norfolk Coast’. However the volume cranked up again at the sound of ‘Peaches’.

‘Walk on by’ proved to be a massive favourite as well as being, as I seem to remember, a free seven inch single given away with the Black and White LP when it was first released.

The band returned to their 1980s period with a rendition of ‘Skin Deep’. And then it was back to, arguably, their classic period when they rattled out tunes such as ‘Duchess’, ‘Hanging Around’, ‘Something Better Change’ and the anthemic ‘No More Heroes’.

It was a memorable performance. Even the weather was kind as the rain, which had been threatening for most of the evening, held off.

With their long history and a massive discography the size of what The Stranglers have in their locker, the band were never ever going to satisfy everyone. There is always going to be that certain song someone really enjoyed that didn’t get played. But I really don’t think the band could have picked a better set list that would have given something for everyone. It was an exceptional performance.

From their beginnings as being a pub rock band and then unwitting pioneers of the punk rock phenomenon of the mid 1970s, it is now fair to say I think, that The Stranglers are now accepted and a part of the fabric of the UK music scene.

And on a totally personal note, that I have just realised while typing these notes, it is just over forty years since I first saw The Stranglers play live at The Locarno in the city centre.

Where did that time go?. And who would have thought that they would still be delighting audiences in 2017?.

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