The Stranglers, with special guests The Alarm, perform their Black And White Tour at Rock City Nottingham on Monday 7th March 2016

Images and review by Kevin Cooper

The Stranglers made their annual trip to Rock City Nottingham last night, but this time it was to showcase their Black And White album; originally released in 1978, when vocalist Hugh Cornwell was at the helm.

To start three hours of solid musical magic were the mighty Welsh rockers, The Alarm, whose frontman Mike Peters immediately impressed with his strong yet gravelly wide ranging vocals.  Wearing a black leather biker jacket and with his cropped blonde hair, the 57 year old singer was passionate and energetic and he quickly got the already packed out venue moving along as he jumped up and down to the beat.

A particular highlight of their sixty minute set was a superb rendition of 1984 hit, Sixty Eight Guns which saw Peters begin alone with his acoustic guitar, showcasing his impressive vocals before the band joined him to finish it off, changing the dynamic of the song to the lively and high energy tempo that it is known for.

Other hits such as One Guitar, In The Poppyfields and My Town followed, before the band paid tribute to the main act with Spirit Of 76.

To commemorate the tour, the stage was decked out in white; the drum kit, the risers, amps and even the lighting rig only projected white light.  In contrast, the band were in full black with a black backdrop, and as they kicked off with first track from the album, Tank, those that were old enough to remember it the first time around, simply went wild.

The band hammered through the track list and refused to stop until it was over.  Playing an album that is keyboard driven, Dave Greenfield was in the spot light.  There was the pseudo reggae sound of Nice N’ Sleazy, the jaunty epic of Toiler On The Sea and the dark and growling In The Shadows.  A particular highlight was Curfew which made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

In no time at all the album had received its due respect and it was time for the hits.  The white set turned technicolour for (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) which had this crowd dancing and pogoing despite their aging limbs.  Walk On By saw Greenfield negotiating all three tiers of his keyboard rig for the mammoth solo, whilst original bassist and co-frontman JJ Burnel seems undiminished by time with his leg cocking and guitar punching aggression.

Princess Of The Streets and Always The Sun provided big sing alongs, whilst I Feel Like A Wog had lost none of its impact with its brilliant bass lines and thought provoking lyrics.  Finishing with Something Better Change, the crowd screamed for them to come back.  For their first encore Peaches and Hanging Around truly raised the roof, and for their second Go Buddy Go and No More Heroes had the fans belting out the lyrics.

It was evident as the band walked off for the third and final time, the fans were expecting a third encore of Golden Brown and Strange Little Girl.  That didn’t come and for some this was disappointing, but you could hardly complain.

The Stranglers are a tight and polished band and having been around for over forty years, you would not expect anything less.  Whilst newbie frontman Baz Warne didn’t join the band until 2000, his gritty vocals were faultless throughout.  Playing just shy of thirty songs and a lengthy tour, more bands should be paying attention to them; they deliver a masterclass in how to play a gig.