The Stranglers stormed Belfast’s Ulster Hall on Friday night (6th April 2018), taking back from Storm Emma, which thwarted March's scheduled show due to heavy snowfall. Bringing along with them home boys Therapy?, it was a night of edgy, alternative, post-punk that left attendees skewered.
Arriving on stage just over four weeks later than scheduled, due to the ‘best from the east’ - storm Emma - the English four-piece more than made up for lost time, with a hits packed show. In keeping with the theme of their ‘Definitive Tour’, the set reflected all sections from right across their four-decade career.
Acknowledging their tardiness from the off, front man Baz Warne, said; “Thanks for coming back to see us. Obviously it wasn’t our fault, but that’s snow business.” Unable to resist further puns, the Sunderland native said; “We’re no flakes. We put a slush fund together”, before admitting; “I’m drifting”.
Baz may have momentarily been drifting, but The Stranglers were far from it, as hit after hit ignited the Belfast venue. Mixing tracks from their heyday along with relatively more recent material like the mesmerizingly powerful ‘Norfolk Coast’, the new wave act demonstrated why they remain a vital force.
With bassist J.J. Burnel prowling the lip of the stage and Dave Greenfield’s signature keys colouring the band’s sound, it was the classic material that predictably raised the roof, with ‘Golden Brown’ (which turned the Ulster Hall temporarily into a glittering ballroom), ‘Always The Sun’ and ‘Walk On By’ bringing the loudest cheers.
Rounding off the night with a rousing 'No More Heroes', Warne admitted; "We don't come here near as often as we should", before promising; "We'll try to remedy that in the future".
Earlier in the evening, local legends Therapy? took to the stage for a heroes’ welcome. Having headlined the same venue in 1995, it was welcome return from the band from; “Just up the road”. Focusing primarily on their million-selling ‘Troublegum’ album (with more recent recent material such as the melodic ‘Tides’ thrown in for good measure), it was a shortsharpshock set from the East Antrim three-piece.
The Stranglers with special guests Therapy? conclude their ‘Definitive’ U.K. and Ireland tour with shows in Dublin on Saturday night (7th April) and Limerick on Sunday night (8th April).
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Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Darren McLoughlin. Click on the image to enlarge.