HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Fri 7 Aug
This article is from 2009.
The opening night of this year’s Edge Festival, and while young folksters Mumford & Sons are playing the other side of town, it couldn’t be more different at the Picture House as old school punks The Stranglers keep things ‘Nice’n’Sleazy’.
Formed in 1974 (as the Guilford Stranglers) they augmented their vitriolic rock with a swirl of organ (from Dave Greenfield) and like many of their contemporaries an underlying intelligence that gave their anger real bite. Despite frontman Hugh Cornwell leaving in 1990, Baz Werne is a fine replacement reinvigorating the band when he joined in 2000, and like Cornwell, sharing vocals with bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel.
Despite all the original members now being in their 50s or 60s, there’s a passion and fire burning in their delivery, and most bands would kill for a back catalogue so rich in hits and depth. ‘Nuclear Device’ and ‘Something Better Change’ snap and snarl - Jet Black pounding the drums harder and faster than on record - while ‘Always the Sun’ and ‘Golden Brown’ are gorgeous iridescent compositions. ‘Walk on By’, ‘Peaches’ and ‘Hanging Around’ are similar highlights, there’s even a mini-stage invasion during ‘Straighten Out’, all building to an explosive encore of ‘No More Heroes’. The majority of their fans may have aged with them, but their music defiantly stands the test of time.