The Stranglers at Boston Music Hall – Punk, Vital, and Kickass

Nervous Eaters at Brighton Music Hall
Nervous Eaters at Brighton Music Hall

We walked in on the Nervous Eaters playing “Degenerate” to a quiet and polite audience. Fetching a drink at the bar, we headed into the crowd and got surprisingly close at center stage. Maybe that’s because this would become the mosh pit. About the lineup, all I can say for sure is that Steve Cataldo was singing and on rhythm guitar. Everything was cool even though we noticed fairly quickly that it was testosterone central. We were surrounded by big burly men in black. Things were still fine through the angst ridden “Shit For Brains” and “528” about the Rathskeller, one of the singles on the Rat label, back in the day. They were technically great, but lacked fire until they swung into “Nazi Concentration Camp Blues.” Full throttle ahead the Eaters finished on an energetic high note with “Loretta,” and thankfully, the slamming was minimal, so we stayed in place.

The Stranglers at Brighton Music Hall
The Stranglers at Brighton Music Hall

Soon after, and with little fanfare, the Stranglers took the stage with the instrumental, “Waltzinblack” eyeballing and sizing up the audience. It’s been almost twenty years since they toured the states. The Stranglers were at the start of it all with other English punk bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash, but don’t let age throw you, the Strangers are still vital, punk, and look as mean as ever. These guys haven’t gotten soft like Johnny Lydon – maybe Johnny’s been eating too much of that Country Life Butter he used to hawk, but I digress.
Baz Warne, the front man, thanked the Nervous Eaters getting their name wrong as the Useless Eaters then as the Needless Eaters finally saying “who the fuck cares, I’m all kinds, an Equal Opportunity Eater,” then kicking it into “Toiler of the Sea.” They were barely pumping, when they cracked “(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)” rattling the rafters. Baz was ferocious on a snarly guitar, and the kid next to me started slamming hard. He even had a helmet for the purpose. Getting out of the fray, things got progressively merciless in the mosh pit on “Money’s No Good.” Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel, the bassist, just grinned through the relentless beat. The pit was savage, and helmet kid slammed a woman who yelled at him until they recognized each other.
Jet Black, the drummer, kept the band on track, and The Stranglers were in complete control and mellowed things out with “Freedom Is Insane.” Baz switched guitars and called the audience suckers for having to go into work the next day since it was a Tuesday night. The old beat up and much loved black fender would glitch out for the rest of the show. Baz quipped once that the power supply ain’t what it used to be in Boston and technical difficulties proved it was a live show. At one point, he flippantly told the Boston crowd “it all went bad for you when you threw the tea in the sea, and I’m not even gonna try to to do a fucking Boston accent,” but he thanked Andy the tech for getting the power back, and demanded a round of applause for him.
“Mercury Rising” was followed by the seminal “Golden Brown” and Baz got close to the audience and played center stage. “Skin Deep” and “Always” started a string of sing alongs. Their cover of the Burt Bacharach classic made famous by Dionne Warwick “Walk On By,” was a great snarly punk version with an awesome synth solo and throbbing bass. Baz’s guitar solo on “Burning Up Time” was phenomenal, and I got real far back when they launched another sing-along-and-slam with “Nice ‘N’ Sleazy.” JJ took over on “Duchess” turning up and slapping the bass hard as he asked the audience “Can the ladies feel this in their lady parts? And you gentlemen, feel good in your prostates?” They literally rattled the rafters. Dave Greenfield delivered a brilliant single handed keyboard solo on “No More Heroes” while drinking down a pint of beer. They left with a wink and a nod, and the audience chanted Stranglers waiting for an encore. Storming back Baz asked, “Did you enjoy yer fuckin’ self?” Finishing the night out with “Hanging Around” and “Tank,” moshing all the way. Damn, that was good and nasty.

The Stranglers new US release of “Giants” is available on May 28, 2013.

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