CHRIS GABRIN

We don’t want to be haters, but gosh did we have an awful time at this gig. Maybe we weren’t the target audience. We stood behind the first couple of rows, which were filled with middle-aged geezers moshpiting their guts out on the dancefloor. The line between their excitement at being out of the house/pub on a Thursday night and their enjoyment of the gig was rather blurry. Some were clearly sweating alcohol. On stage, the picture was no different.

Baz Warne, the lead singer, gurned and gnashed so hard we worried he was about to get a hernia. In a rather old-school tradition, he treated his guitar like a penis extension, with flabby results. The on-stage banter was pretty bad to non-existent. The old adage about the Cambridge/Oxford rivalry inspired some fervent boos from the audience, but isn’t it always better to bond over likes rather than dislikes? Having said that, here we are, writing this review.

Admittedly, our knowledge of the band prior to this performance was founded on their hits. “Walking on the beaches, Looking at the peaches!” Who doesn’t enjoy that? “Golden brown, texture like sun…” They use that song in the background every time Gordon Brown is voted one of the most hated people of the year on BBC3. The band obliged the crowds and didn’t miss a beat of their greatest hits repertoire, but the songs themselves came across a bit strayed.

This is rumoured to be The Stranglers’ last tour because, in the words of someone from one of the support bands, “the drummer’s, like, 104 years old”. Indeed, presented as it was, the material felt distinctly past its expiration date. There was an unintentional element of Spinal Tap amp-pumped-to-11 seeping through proceedings, as if the chemistry between the band was broken by a plastic cocoon malfunction. Nostalgia empowered the audience. “Those were the good old days,” everyone seemed to be thinking. Were they? Were they really?

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