The legendary punks bring their A-game to the stage, delivering a high-energy performance that leaves the Aussie crowd wanting more.
The Stranglers are currently in the midst of a five-date Australian tour, marking their first visit to the land down under since 2020. However, this tour is likely to be a bittersweet experience because their 2020 Aussie dates turned out to be the last time Dave Greenfield played with the band, as he sadly passed away after testing positive for Covid-19 in May of that year.
This time round, the lads kicked off the Aussie leg of the Australian/New Zealand tour in Adelaide on Tuesday, April 18, then played Melbourne, and tonight, Brisbane, before heading to Sydney and concluding the dates at Newcastle’s Cambridge Hotel on Sunday, April 23.
Despite the relatively short tour, the fans have been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to see the band live again, not only because they ‘Strangler mad’ but because it could be the last time the band tours Australia.
Guitarist and singer Baz Warne admitted to Punktuation earlier this year, “At this stage of your life and career, you don’t know if you’re ever going to go there [Australia and New Zealand] again. Everything’s got a shelf life. I hate to use that term, but nothing is infinite; everyone’s getting older and starting to feel it now.”
However, they are here now, and that’s all that matters, and the anticipation of the crowd at the Tivoli is building.
As the lights dim, Heavy Amber, the support band, takes the stage and delivers a powerful performance. Heavy Amber, from Naarm, Victoria, is a band heavily influenced by ‘60s and ’70s psychedelic rock, with undertones of the Cocteau Twin with a 2020s twist – all of which combine to create a genre-defying, hypnotic sound.
Jean Jacque even joined the audience to watch. “You got a great support band,” I said as he passed. “Sure have!” JJ replied with a smile and a thumbs up.
The trio consists of Kasinda Faase on guitar, flute and vocals, Sienna Laycock on bass and vocals, and Samuel Drew-Rumoro on drums. Their music is a seamless fusion of hard-driving guitar riffs and earthy bass grooves with a dynamic and fluid sound. The Strangler’s fans seemed to enjoy them.
After Heavy Amber’s performance, the anticipation in the crowd grows as everyone eagerly awaits The Stranglers to take the stage. The band’s iconic instrumental ‘Waltzinblack’ echoes through the venue, signalling the start of the show. Drummer Jim Macaulay, keyboardist Toby Hounsham, guitarist Baz Warne, and bassist JJ Burnel walk on the stage to thunderous applause.
The Stranglers kick off their set with ‘Toiler On the Sea’, followed by ‘Duchess’.
“Fucking Brisbane!” Baz yells. “How ya fucking doing?”
The packed venue is filled with cheers, whistles and shouts.
“ Let’s turn up the lights so we can see you all,” Baz says as the audience continues to cheer. The lights go up. “Fuck no, quick, turn them down again,” Baz laughs. “That’s horrific!”
The audience erupts again as the band launches into the Hugh Cornwell-written song, ‘Sometimes’ off the band’s first album’ , Rattus Norvegicusas’ and straight into ‘Nice and Sleazy.’ The band are tight and seems to be having fun on the stage. They are relaxed, and Baz is engaging, creating an intimate connection with everyone there.
JJ Burnel looks way younger than his 71 years as he delivers a powerful performance on the bass, showcasing his legendary talent as he rips into ‘This Song’ off their ‘Dark Matters’ album.
The Stranglers are delivering an unforgettable gig with Baz Warne, as always, doing a sterling job at the helm as lead vocalist. With over two decades in the band, Baz instinctively knows how to charm the audience with his stage presence and has everyone eating out of his hand.
As the band belts out hit after hit, the crowd is on fire with excitement! The audience sings along passionately to The Stranglers’ iconic hits, including ‘Always the Sun,’ ‘Skin Deep,’ ‘Peaches,’ ‘(Get a) Grip (on Yourself),’ and ‘Golden Brown.’ The energy in the venue is electric, with everyone caught up in the band’s spellbinding performance.
The explosive set ends with fan-favourite ‘Tank’, and The Stranglers leave the stage to deafening cheers and whistles. But they aren’t done yet! They come back for not one but two encores, the final one delivering powerhouse renditions of ‘Go Buddy Go’ and ‘No More Heroes’ that leave the crowd begging for more.
This was a night to remember, with The Stranglers at the top of their game, which left the audience buzzing with excitement. The band’s electrifying stage presence and timeless hits made for an unforgettable gig. Let’s hope the Strangers will return for their 50th anniversary next year!
All photos © Ummagummamumma Photography, except Dave Greenfield image.
Toiler on the Sea
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
Always the Sun
(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)
Walk On By
Something Better Change
And If You Should See Dave…
Go Buddy Go
No More Heroes
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I’m a London born and bred music journalist, a mediocre bass player and the occasional strummer of the guitar. In the ’80s I worked in recording studios and made a few records you’d probably recognise. I have written a couple of books and made the odd media appearance as a music commentator. I now call Brisbane home.