THE STRANGLERS + RUTS DC @ THE BRIGHTON DOME, BRIGHTON 17TH FEBRUARY 2022
With a career spanning 45 years, eighteen studio albums and a string of chart hits, The Stranglers are one of the longest-lasting and best-loved bands to come out of the UK punk scene of the late 1970s.
Their “Final Full Tour” was announced in January 2020, one last extensive itinerary with full-scale production values. Following the death of keyboard player Dave Greenfield in May 2020, the remaining members resolved to play the tour in memory of Dave and complete the ‘Dark Matters’ album they had started recording with him.
Twice postponed due to the pandemic, the tour finally got underway in February 2022, and we caught up with it at The Brighton Dome.
Opening band Ruts DC are another well-respected act that emerged as The Ruts from the UK punk scene of the 1970s. They, too, have had their share of tragedy, not least with the death of vocalist Malcolm Owen in 1980, after which the remaining members continued as Ruts DC. They continue to release new material, blending the tunes and riffing of old school punk with dub and reggae vibes.
Currently a three-piece, their impressive catalogue includes some classic singles. They kick off a blistering set with ‘Something That I Said’. There’s newer material, too, such as ‘Kill The Pain’ from 2016, and a brand new track, ‘Born Innocent’ featuring a super-heavy bass groove.
Of course, it’s the early tracks that really engage with the crowd, and after the lolloping skank of ‘Jah War’, we’re treated to a romp through ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’, ‘In A Rut’, and UK Top 10 hit ‘Babylon’s Burning’, with its iconic guitar run. Ruts DC have superb material, and with the power, skill and stage presence born of long experience, they are a formidable live act.
RUTS DC – BRIGHTON DOME 17TH FEBRUARY 2022
The stage is set for The Stranglers, whose stomping main set of 23 numbers spans their long career from their debut album in 1977 to the present, and the classics come thick and fast ‘Nice’ n’ Sleazy’, Strange Little Girl’ and ‘Always The Sun’, and of course a superb run-throughs of ‘Peaches’ and ‘Golden Brown’.
Bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel is the last remaining member of the famed 1970s lineup, but the current band is powerful and tight, and they play with passion and heart. Recent recruit Toby Hounsham does a fine job recreating Dave Greenfield’s iconic keyboard parts.
The newer material from last year’s ‘Dark Matters’ album stands up well alongside the many hits and cherished album tracks that make up this long and impressive set.
For the first encore, JJ and guitarist Baz Warne play seated, and there’s a touching rendition of ‘And If You Should See Dave’, a poignant tribute to their late bandmate from the recent album. The rest of the band return for a blistering conclusion with two early punk classics, ‘Go Buddy Go’ and ‘No More Heroes’, bringing plenty of enthusiastic dancing from the happy crowd.
Whether or not this really is the last tour, this was a hugely impressive evening’s entertainment, and I was pleased to be here to see it.
THE STRANGLERS – BRIGHTON DOME 17TH FEBRUARY 2022
Photos ©Cris Watkins Photography Words Richie Nice