THE STRANGLERS

The local press makes mention of the guitar problems but it was more upbeat in its assessment published a few days after on 30-5-77: "A night to remember - The Stranglers delighted a St Andrews Hall audience last Thursday with a scintillating performance that will live long in the memory. After initial problems with guitars, the band recovered in devastating fashion. It was no music for the purists but good, gutsy rock & roll. The only disappointment was the size of the crowd - it really should have been larger."

Interesting about the crowd because almost all the gigs on this tour were sold out. The pic to the left of Hugh Cornwall is from St Andrew's Hall but I don't know from which gig it's from. Brian Michie's pic below.

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I didn’t see any trouble on the way in and I don’t suppose that anyone other than real hard core punk trouble makers would try and drink in the pub but on the way out a number of big biker types were on the look out and eventually they chased a load of punters down the road, probably after some provocation. We were out in the middle of the throng (on a safety in numbers basis) and we elected not to go the direction of the action, even though it was the quickest way to the car.

Now of course I WAS a biker but I wasn’t easily recognisable as that and in any event I didn’t necessarily relate to those guys at all.

So we walked up and turned right towards the car a bit further up, it was a major thoroughfare with more traffic and a safer bet, or so we thought,. Where we turned right is a crossroads and on the crossroads is a pub called, at the time, the Shirehall, and in that pub waiting were a very large number of “Greebos” or “Smoothies” and when the we turned to go down the road (with others dispersing in contra direction) they came spilling out of the pub armed with bottles, glasses, wooden table legs or bats running down the road and thrashing out at anyone who was in their way, maybe stopping to beat someone up, there was a mad rush and we were caught up in it but luckily we slunk off to the right down a side road. If they saw what we were doing they chose to ignore us but I think they had more than enough to do without struggling across and following. We went into a pub called The Old Woolpack which we knew was sympathetic to the music and hid for a while before checking the coast was clear and making our way.

I never saw any police or, to be fair, anyone badly injured though almost certainly there would have been some, I’d have thought."

 

Jon Fry a moderator on the Facebook "Punk in Norwich" group replied to the above: "not how I remember that night at all. .the city was full of straights and 'city boys'.. no bikers to my knowledge...and there was fuzz everywhere.. they made us leave the venue in small groups and sent us off in different directions so that we couldn't get together to defend ourselves. .and also the gig was 1977.. we didn't start using the old woolpack til Feb 78.

I was with the Heartsease punks and jon v .. we were well up for it..(well..maybe not jon so much :-) ) .after hugh cornwell's stirring speech about standing up to bullies.. but the bloody cops made us leave two by two and sent us in opposite directions so we couldn't team up .."

i remember the cromer punks managed to get together, in numbers, on duke st though .. they really went for it !! .. it helped that they had a giant with them though."

 

Strangeley nothing much has been said about the Only Ones who supported the Stranglers on this second gig.

 

During the next number the bass fucked up again and Burnell (sic) started smashing up his instrument in sheer frustration.

He got a new one and the show got rolling again. They actually managed to play the first three chords of "Sometimes" before the bass fucked up AGAIN. After a lengthy tuning up break they started again and fortunately the bass managed to last out for the rest of the gig.

Their main problem that night wasn't only the technical ones. They just couldn't play a number without ruining it somehow. Even on the few numbers which weren't ruined at the beginning or in the middle they always managed to piss them up with a long, boring extended organ solo at the end. "Hanging Around" was the only exception, they hardly elaborated on the album version at all and that was what made the song into their best number that night. Second best was "School Children," a newie which didn't sound too bad on the first hearing.

The distortion began to get worse as the evening progressed and at one point I seriously considered leaving.  Matters weren't helped by a large mob of 20 stone piss-artists which made dancing a positive danger. Every time I got even remotely near the front one of these stupid cunts jumped on my foot, trying his best to break every toe in my body.

They left the stage, and for some reason were called back for an encore. I didn't even bother to listen to it I was already making tracks for the exit. The only thing that improved the evening were the support band London, who were quite good." S.S

The Stranglers played two 1977 gigs in Norwich, both at St Andrew's Hall. The first was on 26-5-77 with the "Rats on the Road" tour and London provided support. It was just four days after the Stranglers made their debut on Top of the Pops performing "Go Buddy Go" on the double A-sided "Peaches" single.

ticket photojillhugh ticket vomit

"I've never been particulalry keen on The Stranglers, and this gig didn't do much to enhance my view of them. I only went in the first place because I got a cheap ticket anyway. Their material was obviously good, but Jesus was the sound crap! Now, I'm not a boring old cunt who always moans about the sound being not mixed perfectly, but there is a limit. The distortion at this gig, especially from the keyboards was really terrible. Not only that but the whole evening was a run of disasters.

On their first number "Grip" the bass fucked up. After a while it seemed to have been put right and they continued.

Below is a contemporary account of the gig from "Vomit" a Norwich punk zine.  It mentions problems with JJ Burnel's bass guitar and him losing his temper. It has been noted elsewhere that he was seen in the Festival House before the gig ...

hugh 77 st andrews 17626192_1487429244609432_7476314684261255416_n

The second gig on the 27th September, 1977, is perhaps better known in Norwich for the violence and mayhem outside the gig. Paul Lancaster wrote the following on the online music chatboard "God's Jukebox," although his version is somewhat disputed. I also think he means the Shrubhouse where he says the Shirehall:

"The gig was heaving and after a typically gob filled night the crowd began to file out but as was typical for punk Gigs in those days there were a number of post gig issues. The first banana skin was the pub opposite the venue which was called in those days the Festival House. It was a music venue but the gigs were biker orientated and the clientele were not fans of punk or the look..

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