British punk legends The Stranglers returned once again to Southampton’s Guildhall on Tuesday night, delivering another top notch performance. The band who founded back in 1974 are most notable for their hit songs Peaches and Golden Brown, the latter of which was immortalised in Guy Ritchie’s cult film, Snatch, back in 1999.
They have an extensive back catalogue and are incredibly versatile, spreading a whole range of unique sounds across numerous albums. On the night, the band played remarkably well and proved their stamina with a near two hour set list which demonstrated they had lost nothing with age. The band now consists of founding members Jean-Jaques Brunel, Dave Greenfield and Jet Black, as well as a 1990 recruit, Baz Warne. Although on the night the band was missing their original drummer, Jet Black, who hung up his touring boots back in 2015, his replacement, young gun Jim Macauley, managed to emulate his predecessors’ rhythm quite well and made it so he wasn’t missed too much by the fans. Although one patron did mention she missed his presence, it didn’t seem to affect the show in any way. Warne and Brunel provided a charismatic duo as front men. Warne in particular showed a fantastic vocal range and prowled the stage looking menacing and confident. Overall, there can be no complaints about the performance. Even if you weren’t familiar with many of their songs you wouldn’t have been disappointed. There is no doubt that the highlight was in fact Golden Brown, which came on at about the hour mark and was performed faultlessly. I thought it was a considerably brave choice for the band not to save it till last; but it worked, and was quickly followed by Peaches. With still 20 minutes left to play, all bets were off as to how it would end. Regardless, they lost none of their enthusiasm and were just as consistent through to the finale.
However, one concern that should be noted was a considerable lack of energy from the crowd. Apart from a few small pockets of the crowd, most seemed utterly stagnant throughout the performance. There was little energy present in the mostly older male audience and showed a real disrespect to a very impressive band. So if there can be one criticism, it’s of the crowd rather than the band. In my opinion, a fantastic performance was wasted on an abysmal crowd. This being said, from speaking to several people outside, their enthusiasm may have been under the surface. John, 53, who first saw the band play in 1979 and claimed to have seen them perform 20-30 times since said “They’re brilliant, they’ve always been brilliant. The old stuff they play is fantastic. They’re the best musicians from that era. Fantastic.” So obviously there were some diehard fans in attendance, even if they didn’t do much to make themselves known.
Overall, it proved that The Stranglers have stood up to the test of time, along with their biggest hits. The band showed an impressive amount of energy and passion in their performance as well consistency from the beginning to end, all of which demonstrated that they still have a good few years left in them yet and hopefully they make another return to Southampton again soon.