The Stranglers, L’Olympia, Paris, The Ruby Tour

The Stranglers were back in town 2 years after their last visit, playing the same famous Parisian venue.

As in 2012, Jet Black was not on stage – age and bad health have been taking their toll on the drummer, now in his mid 70s! – replaced by a newcomer, Jim McCaulay. This was the only difference in the line-up compared to 2012, which featured Ian Barnard on drums, and naturally Dave Greenfield (keyboards), Baz Warne (guitar and vocals) and Jean-Jacques Burnel (bass and vocals).

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The Stranglers

I had deeply enjoyed the 2012 gig, strangely enough only my second Stranglers show. Surely nothing to do with the fact that my first contact with their music had left me cold, even though I had translated the first issue of the Strangled magazine in French! I had become a “fan” a couple of years later, getting to understand and love their music.

The band got on stage at 9pm sharp, with “Waltz in black” playing on the sound system,  and opened with “Toiler On The Sea”.

The second song started with JJ knocking his bass, the usual unusual introduction to “No More Heroes”. Great song and rendition!

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The Stranglers

First lead vocals duties for JJ with “Was It You?”, followed by “Threatened” with Baz back on vocals, before JJ took the lead again with a brilliant version of “Summat Outanowt”.

I had the feeling that the sound was not as good as on their previous appearance, but I am totally unsure there was any relation with the problems Dave started to experience, JJ joking in French “40 years ago it was like this every night!”.

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Jean-Jacques Burnel

A rather quick fix and Dave could sing “Peasant In The Big Shitty”, followed by the wonderful and powerful “Peaches”, one of the highlights of the evening!

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Dave Greenfield

JJ was back on lead vocals with “La Folie” – which has a weird impact live – and the temperature rose again with “Midnight Summer Dream” and the classic and fabulous “Golden Brown” and “Always The Sun”.

2 more pieces were sung by JJ  (“Thrown Away”, “Never To Look Back”), then back to Baz with “Nuclear Device”. I’ve never seen the “original” line-up with Hugh Cornwell, but Baz is – again – quite impressive.

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Dave Greenfield & Baz Warne

And the show continued with an excellent “Skin Deep”, then another song by JJ (“Time To Die”), the recent “Lowlands”, and another classic and climax (no pun intended) with “Nice ‘N’ Sleazy”.

Baz & JJ were still sharing lead vocals duties on “Walk On By”, “Freedom Is Insane”, “Duchess” and “Five Minutes”, and the lads left after an invigorating “Hanging Around”.

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Jean-Jacques Burnel

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Dave Greenfield

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Baz Warne

If I was not totally convinced by the sound quality or Jim’s drumming, the commitment and eagerness of the band are undeniably genuine! Add a good dose of humour (the flying shoe episode at a later point), raw energy and great songs, add frenzy in the first rows of the standing audience, you’ll get the picture!

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Jim, JJ & Dave

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Baz Warne

Naturally the audience made it clear they wanted more, and The Men In Black came back playing “Norfolk Coast”, “Something Better Change” and an excellent cover of the Kinks “All Day And All Of The Night”.

Off again and back again for a final song, “Tank” and then they left for good at 11pm.

As most of the “punk” and “post-punk” bands I’ve seen over the recent years (Peter Hook & The Light, Wire, The Fall, PIL, Echo And The Bunnymen, Section25…), The Stranglers make it clear that they are still a musical force to be counted on and a great band on stage after 40 years.

And JJ has still this almost unique way of moving while playing the bass – only can think of Peter Hook as a possible contender!

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The Stranglers