Walking into Salisbury Guildhall felt more like walking into a room with all of your parents’ friends and feeling extremely out of place. A game of spot the under-25s later and we’d decided that, including ourselves, there were only 20 young people there. This spoke volumes about the band we were about to see in the best way possible; the Stranglers had a massive following years after they’d reached their highest musical point.
I’d never heard of the Godfathers before, but they were definitely suited to supporting the Stranglers. With a front man (Chris Coyne) who swore at the audience before thanking for the applause and positive atmosphere from the crowd, the Godfathers oozed cool. Even whilst taking a moment to implore us all to buy their newest CD, they had a devil may care attitude. Armed with a tambourine which was battered between his hands, the lead singer nodded and bounced along to the rock vibe. They sang songs from their previous albums; the last of which was released in 1996; and from their newest creation Jukebox Fury, ‘Back Into the Future’ seemed oddly recognisable. Unfortunately, the vibe from the audience, although positive, was impatient. It felt as though everyone was simply biding their time until the main act came on and the dream of seeing The Stranglers in concert was realised for the upteenth, or first times.
Distant from the days when the band started a riot at a university after changing their minds about performing for ‘elitists’, the band at the Guildhall were oddly restrained. I say oddly, well, thirty years will change the best of us, but the music stayed the same – brilliantly original, catchy and in high demand. Everyone there knew which songs they wanted played, and it seemed the band did as well. Teasing the audience, they kept the standard high as they played iconic songs mixed in with their usual punk rock tunes – ‘Waltzinblack’, ‘Duchess’, and ‘Who Wants the World’ featured. No matter which song, the crowd danced, shouted and sang along. They will probably be best known to our generation as ‘the band who lent their song ‘Peaches’ to one of the GTA game soundtracks’, but to the rest of us, and our parents, as one of the best English bands of the 70s. So when they did play ‘Peaches’ and ‘Golden Brown’, I felt oddly nostalgic. Introduced to the band by my Mother, my older brother went through a phase of listening to their albums on repeat. It was amazing to see that they were just as good in the flesh as they were on the CD player (an old musical device for any of you young readers out there).
If you were watching closely, you’d realise that the band had two drummers that night. By the second half of the set list their Jet Black had come onstage; due to popular demand and shouts of his name from the crowd; and was rocking out with the rest of the band. If you’d not known the band beforehand, you’d know immediately that Jet Black was definitely wanted, the cheer when he came out was near deafening and the smiles left a grin on my face as well. By the end of the gig, there were a few people who’d walked past me and seemed to be reluctantly finding the exits, looking either as if they were really tired, or complaining that their children were with the babysitters. However, this didn’t deter, and a few minutes after going off stage, Jet Black, Jean-Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield (the originals who’ve been going for five glorious decades now) and Baz Warne (who joined the band in 2000) came back on stage for a renditions of ‘No More Heroes’, ‘Something Better Change’ and ‘Tank’.
All in all, this was a good night with good music. It was brilliant to see the Stranglers in concert, and supported by such a band as the Godfathers was pretty cool. It did make me feel a little bad that such good music is being overlooked nowadays as people move towards more pop music, but with the crowd being so into the Stranglers, and still following them closely, it was evident that good music won’t be lost it’ll just be dormant for a few years. It was heart warming to see the band still had so many fans on their third successful tour in their fifth decade. Especially the woman who was drunkenly doing a four step to their songs before persuading everyone around her to join in.