There has always been a strong punk scene in Belfast, with bands like Stiff Little Fingers and The Defects still going strong since the late 70s. The Stranglers have therefore had a great reception over the past few years and were returning to Belfast to play the Ulster Hall just under a year since their last sold out show. It would be the first night of their 19 date UK ‘Back on the Tracks’ tour.
I did think that the rhythm and blues band was a strange choice for support and judging by the numbers in the Ulster Hall when Dr Feelgood came on stage, other people agreed. However straight away the doubters were proved wrong. Despite the fact that I didn’t know a single track there was no denying an engaging and high energy performance and soon the hall started to fill.
The mammoth set that followed from The Stranglers demonstrates that there is so much more to them than punk. Of course songs like “(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)”, “Goodbye Toulouse” and “Peaches” from their debut album take some of the crowd back to the 70s punk era and receive a fantastic response.
Despite the fact that both Baz Warne and JJ Burnell are committed to duties on guitar/bass as well as vocals they do manage to command the crowd’s attention up front. One thing is apparent, the entire band are enjoying themselves. This is always great to see especially in a band that have been going for 40+ years and it is contagious. Everyone is having a great time, from those who have been lifelong fans through to those who are only seeing the band live for the first time.
The 20+ song set list contained a good mix of the band’s back catalogue but the classics such as “Golden Brown” and “No More Heroes” will always receive a fantastic response. Overall another fantastic solid performance which was thoroughly enjoyed by the packed Ulster Hall.
Photos by Exposing Shadows Photography