Wednesday, 16 March 2016
The Stranglers at Reading Hexagon
The Stranglers Black & White tour came to the Reading Hexagon last night, and it was a fantastic evening. Following the pattern of previous dates on the tour the band go straight in to Black & White and play the album right through without stopping. Highlights for me were Nice 'N Sleazy and Toiler On The Sea. The band were really tight and on top form with plenty of fooling around on stage. It was probably only to be expected that the gig really came to life with the more familiar "greatest hits" for a lot of the audience during the second half of the evening. Baz provided a great moment when he played the BBC Snooker theme. As he said the venue is still best remembered for hosting the World Grand Prix 20 years or so ago.
My own highlight of the evening was the fantastic version of Walk On By. Dave's keyboards and Baz's guitar were simply stunning. In my humble opinion this cover version is the best cover version ever done in music! Throughout the evening Jean-Jaqcues' bass and Jim's drums were continuously belting marvellous, unrelenting rhythms underpinning the songs.
I have a lot of time for The Stranglers. My mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, and four years is stilling the disease. Two weeks ago she had surgery to remover the lower lob of her left lung which had secondary cancerous nodules from the bowel cancer. In 2014 I approached the band to meet and photograph them for a fundraising book I was doing to raise funds for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. The band kindly invited me to their sound-check before the packed and rather intimate gig at SUB89 in Reading. It was absolutely amazing giving me unprecedented access to the band, and the whole experience is documented in a chapter in the book. I am very grateful to the band for their support and since its publication a few months ago the Lives & Times book has raised almost £1000 for the charity. To see all the ways to order the book click here.
It was nice returning to the fold as a fan last night, and just taking a couple of photos from the crowd. I am already looking forward to what's next from the band.