THE STRANGLERS / DR. FEELGOOD - O2 Academy, Glasgow 09.03.19
PHOTO CREDITS: PLAN9NINE PHOTOGRAPHY
The coldest place on earth is in the Antarctic where scientists have data on record that shows -133.6 is the coldest temperature recorded. Where am I going with this? Well, Glasgow on a Saturday night queuing outside Glasgow’s O2 Academy on Eglington Street to get into THE STRANGLERS concert, is the second coldest place on earth. Honestly, it’s biting cold! I wish I was some place warm, maybe even walking on a beach, perhaps looking at some peaches!
After the obligatory and mandatory security checks, I arrived in the venue, turning to my left to check out the wide array of merchandise. It’s worth mentioning that the quality of the T-shirts are extremely high. Each shirt has ‘Stranglers Official Merchandise’ embroidered on the tag at the back to reassure customers that their product is not produced on the cheap with inferior material - although £25 for a shirt is just about where I’d draw the line. I always like it when you can buy signed items at gigs too, such as posters and albums. There’s lots of merch here to suit most pockets.
The opening act for this evening is legendary blues-rock/pub band DR. FEELGOOD who have no original members but still carry the same format as set out by original members: Wilco Johnson, Lee Brilleaux, John B. Sparks and John Martin. The current line up consists of: Kevin Morris, Steve Walyn, P.H. Mitchell and Robert Kane reach and even surpass the bar set by the original members. This group has its roots firmly in the Blues camp and does not deviate nor does it seek to copy the original verbatim. What you have is 4 extremely talented musicians who clearly love playing live.
Front man Robert Kane walked on stage and straight away noticed me getting into position to take photos. As I took position like a media savvy sniper, ready for my first kill of the night, he grabbed the microphone and shouted into it and pointed at me “Hey, there’s a photographer taking my picture”. He smiled and played up to my camera. I kept my finger down tight on the shutter release as I listened to my 5 photos per second (hopefully exposed correctly and in focus) save to my media card. As the rest of the band came on stage and started to play I could not resist a quick look and thankfully I had captured the moment perfectly! I spend the next 3 songs shooting the band from all angles getting as much as possible.
DR. FEELGOOD do as their name suggests, they make you feel good. Each song is a gem and was played with conviction. These guys clearly really enjoy being on the road, playing to fans. Highlights were the song ‘Roxette’ and ‘Milk and Alcohol’ which had the crowd singing along. I thoroughly enjoyed their performance and it was clear the audience did too.
So, the moment had come, the venue went dark and the haunting sound of ‘Waltzin Black’ echoed around the auditorium. This is how THE STRANGLERS set the tone and it’s become an iconic introduction to their shows. As the song ended, the band took to the stage to cheers from the crowd and wasted no time diving straight into the song ‘Tank’ much to the crowd’s delight. To be honest the next 7-8 minutes were a complete blur as I jostled for position to get shots of the band. The lighting was mostly low-key with back-lighting, but I managed to get some nice close and wide shots of the band. Thanks to ‘Strange Little Girl’ for getting me a copy of the set list.
Unfortunately, drummer Jet Black, now 80 years old, no longer tours with the band and drumming duties have been passed over to very capable Jim Macaulay who provides the backbone to the music. Peering out over from behind the keyboards was Dave Greenfield. From where I was I could only see the top of his head and eyes, so shooting him was virtually impossible. The keyboards are essentially what gives THE STRANGLERS their unique sound and sets them aside from their contemporaries. I think although THE STRANGLERS appeal to the vast majority of the punk community, their unique brand of music touches so many musical genres that it’s hard to place them into one basket. The band are most famous for songs like ‘Peaches’, ‘Golden Brown’ and ‘Always The Sun’. Each of these songs has a different style and diversity about them setting them aside from their contemporaries.
Baz Warne’s vocal and guitar playing ability allowed him to slot seamlessly into his position in the band and he’s been warmly received as Hugh Cornwall’s replacement since 2000.
Baz looked really pleased to be performing in front of a sold-out crowd and Glasgow always give these guys a warm reception. JJ Burnel could most probably perform his bass lines in his sleep. I don’t think I saw him look down at his hands once as he belted out some of the most iconic bass lines in punk history. Musically these guys were on point and when you’ve been doing this as long as these guys have it all becomes second nature.
The set list was impressive with all the songs you’d want to hear. They managed to cram in an impressive 25 songs. THE STRANGLERS are on tour right now and you can catch them all over the U.K. They will be playing at Rebellion Festival and they are set to tour with Alice Cooper from 4th Oct this year. My advice is to get your tickets fast. You snooze you lose!
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