’74-’14: Forty years in photos-part 3

In the last in this photographic series covering the band’s career to date, we feature the years 2001 to the present day…

Listen to a 15 track selection of songs from this era on Spotify here 40 years in photos-01-14


Paul and Baz on a cramped stage, Switzerland 2001

This year was a relatively quiet one for the band. In February they released a live album 5Live01 in Germany and undertook a short tour with gigs in Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland to promote it. The summer saw only a few European festivals and a gig at the Grand Prix ball in Silverstone where Eddie Jordan joined them on drums for a track. The year’s big event was the Weekend Convention which took place in mid September where the band and about a thousand fans took over Pontins in Weston Super Mare. It was a packed weekend of events and performances and really raised the bar for any future conventions that followed…


Live, Europe 2002

The year was spent gigging with the opening concert at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, the first of many at the venue in years to come. They also made  visits to the Channel Islands for a double header with Stiff Little Fingers plus a trio of dates in Ireland and the band’s debut at Guilfest in their hometown of Guildford. The band also made their first trip out to Belgium to play a series of acoustic gigs as they have done on several occasions since with neighbouring Holland included. The end of the year saw a short British tour culminating with a return to Shepherd’s Bush.


JJ & Jet onstage, 2003

Another relatively quiet year live. The band were invited back to Guilfest and also played a couple of biker events, one in Derby and the other out in Barcelona. They also played an acoustic gig at the Cabot Hall in the financial district of London and were joined onstage by percussionist Neil Sparkes. The year finished off with the band joining UB40’s tour as special guests for an 18 date tour of arenas in the UK and Ireland bringing them to a whole new audience. The year was also spent working on material which would form this line up’s first (and only) album for release the following year…


Norfolk Coast session, Hunstanton

The band had returned to EMI and their new album Norfolk Coast was released in February to rave reviews from both fans & critics, unanimously calling it a return to form. The fruits of songwriting collaborations of Baz & JJ with Paul chipping in too, the album’s songs were incredibly varied with the title track making a blistering intro to a great album. Promoters around the world thought so too and the band were incredibly busy on the live circuit throughout the year. They kicked off with a British tour before crossing the Channel to play a tour through Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. A packed summer festival season followed (including yet another Guilfest gig!) before they jetted off for short tours in both Australia and Canada. The year finished with a full French tour of nearly 20 dates, a return trip to Iceland (their first since ’78) and another Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig to end a very busy year…


Festival appearance 2005

Following the whirlwind year of promoting Norfolk Coast, the band took it a bit easier in 2005. Buoyed by the amazing reception that the album had received, they had already started working on songs for the next one and Baz & JJ spent a few months in Cornwall songwriting. After globetrotting the year before, gigs this year were confined to the UK and Europe and were mostly festivals. After another visit to Shepherd’s Bush, the band’s final dates of the year were a pair of gigs in the midlands which proved to be Paul’s last with the band…


Suite XVI photosession (Matt Sweeting)

Whilst all appeared harmonious in the group, behind the scenes it was another matter. According to JJ, Paul was starting to become distant and disinterested in rehearsals and work on the new album. The other four, however, were getting on like a house on fire and were using their time productively and bonding. During recording for the album, things came to a head and, following an ultimatum, Paul decided that his future lay elsewhere. Paul had been a loyal member of the band for sixteen years and they were both sad to see him go and a little anxious about reverting to a four piece. The first live outing for the mark IV band was at a small festival in Weston Super Mare which saw Baz & JJ sharing vocals duties equally. Many of the crowd were unaware of any issues in recent months as the band played a storming set and received a fantastic reception. Following some more summer festivals, the new album Suite XVI was released that September to more glowing reviews and the band trekked around the UK & Ireland to promote it. The band had made a smooth transition back to its original format, according to JJ ‘we were a four piece again, what The Stranglers should be, with two singers’.


Promo shoot for Rattus at the Roundhouse gigs (Chris Gabrin)

It was time to take the stripped back line up on the road! The band headed off to Europe and played dates in Italy as well as a short French tour. After some summer festivals, the band headed East to play festivals in Singapore and a pair in Japan. October & November saw a two part acoustic tour in Belgium & Holland which straddled a rather special trio of gigs. In a rather inspired idea, the band played a gig at the recently reopened Roundhouse in North London, the scene of many successful, sweaty nights for them back in 1976-1977. Exactly 30 years to the night since they broke attendance records at the venue, they took the stage to perform the exact same set from all those years before. Under the name ‘Rattus at the Roundhouse’, the trio of dates also included gigs in Glasgow and Manchester.


Live Summercase, Barcelona 2008

The year that the big festivals finally started to take notice! Amongst other European & UK dates (plus visits to Israel & Dubai), the summer of ’08 was particularly noteworthy because of the huge festivals that included them on the bill. Summercase in Spain, Oxegen in Ireland, Hard Rock Calling in London, T in the Park in Scotland, the Isle of Wight and V festivals all played host to the band. Such huge events served to increase the band’s profile and also bring them to a wider (and younger!) audience. The autumn saw a lengthy British hits tour in support of the planned 4240 release before the band headed down under for a trio of Aus dates.


Decades Apart photoshoot (John McMurtie)

Immediately after the British tour, the band started the new year early with a huge European 4240 tour which wound its frozen way down from snowy Scandinavia to Portugal and all points between.  It was a massive undertaking with vast journeys by coach and, due to the hectic, month-long itinerary, Jet’s place was taken by his drum tech Ian Barnard. From the cold of a European winter, the band again globetrotted down to a scorching summer Oz for some more dates. After the packed summer of ’08, 2009 was quiet in comparison with around ten festivals and gigs in total, including another Guilfest booking…


Spot the logo!-Glasto '10

The spring release of an EMI greatest hits compilation Decades Apart (which featured two new songs) was supported by a full British tour with a couple of European dates at the end. The band then jetted East to play a three gig Japanese festival called Punkspring before the summer festival itinerary kicked in. Amongst others, they played the inaugural Triumph Live event and paid return visits to Oxegen & T in the Park too. The big news of the year was that the band were finally invited to play the legendary Glastonbury Festival, an event which had previously eluded them. Although they came onstage mid afternoon, they played to an immense crowd (estimates of 70,000!) as can be evidenced from the photo above. That’s another one ticked off the list…


Weekendinblack Q&A session with John Robb (photo Andy Miller)

This was a year spent combining both touring and studio work recording tracks for the next album which was scheduled for release in 2012. Live wise, the band kicked off the year with a full British tour in the spring before heading out to the Low Countries for an unplugged mini tour which alternated nightly between Belgium & Holland. The summer festival period was relatively quiet as the band were busy rehearsing for the upcoming ‘Weekendinblack’  event which took place that November. It was the band’s first convention since the Weston Super Mare weekend 10 years before, packing four different live performances (both acoustic & electric) into two days along with various special guests, Q&A sessions, an auction, raffle, a special beer and the world’s hardest pub quiz! A hugely memorable event for both band and fans alike…


A surprise for Blondie, Australia 2012

The fruits of the band’s studio endeavours were released that spring on an album entitled Giants. A hugely eclectic mix of tracks and styles, it was heralded as an immediate classic by fans and the band played lengthy tours to promote the release in both the UK & across Europe. Accompanying them throughout the Giants dates were a pair of photographers/filmmakers called David Boni & Mark Huskisson who were documenting the band’s life on the road for a forthcoming documentary film. The pair were also responsible for the rather shocking & controversial gallows cover image for the album which featured in a high profile, post watershed advertising campaign across the capital. The summer schedule was packed with fifteen festival shows both at home and abroad in such far flung places as Istanbul, Estonia & Looe which Baz provided an excellent gig by gig blog throughout the dates. Playing a total of over 60 gigs that year, the band finished off 2012 with a trip down under as special guests of Blondie on an 8 date tour of New Zealand & Australia. To mark the end of the tour, the band got dressed up (somewhat unconvincingly!) in blonde wigs and gaudy frocks for an impromptu stage invasion during Blondie’s set. Luckily Debbie & the boys saw the funny side…


Proms performance, Albert Hall, London

In February, the band set off on a tour around the UK and a recording of this tour was later released on CD under the tour title Feel It Live. The band made a long overdue trip across the Atlantic to the US & Canada in June to promote the Stateside release of Giants. Albeit whistle stop, the short tour was very well received by the fans out there. The band also made a return visit to the iconic Royal Albert Hall in London, having been invited to be the first rock band to play at the Proms series of gigs in a collaboration with BBC 6Music. Backed by a full orchestra, the band played unique arrangements of a pair of tracks.


The Ruby anniversary 'smile' pic

Into the band’s Ruby anniversary year! To celebrate this landmark achievement for the band, a new promotional photo was captured by photographer David Boni which actually featured band members actually smiling! Live wise, it was always going to be a busy year for the band and, following a lengthy British tour, they headed out to Europe for an itinerary covering Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland & Germany. The Paris gig was shown as a live webcast over the internet. The summer schedule was busy including a full week of dates in Britain and various festivals with some biggies too (T in the Park, Electric Picnic & V). In all the band clocked up over 50 gigs this year!

…and that brings us bang up to date. It’s been a hell of a journey! As for 2015 and beyond, who knows what the future holds…

Promo shot for 2015 tour (Warren Meadows)