La Folie-fan’s tour diary

It’s La Folie month in the History section. The La Folie tour started exactly 30 years ago today and intrepid explorer Phil Coxon was again attempting the complete tour around the UK.

Read his tour diary..

History: la folie – A fan’s tour diary

Only nine months after The Gospel According to The Meninblack UK tour in February ’81, the band were back out on the road that November to support the release of their next studio album La Folie.

Travelling fan Phil Coxon from Derby (right) decided to attempt the complete tour again. His efforts to follow February’s tour had been cut short by exhaustion and he was eager to get back out on the road. Here’s his diary:

It’s summer ’81 and The Stranglers have been busy rehearsing new material before recording starts at The Manor in August. Some good news is announced in Strangled, tour dates for November and December to promote the new album which is to be titled La Folie. Jet had previously informed us in our holy mag that it was all about The Stranglers take on love!! So waiting in eager anticipation…..

14th November Norwich UEA
It’s finally arrived -it’s the first day of the tour.

Norwich is too much of a trek by train from Derby so I manage to persuade a good friend at work to drive us, us being myself, Chris and Dave–two more of the ever growing Derbys-In-Black.

It’s a long drive and we get there mid afternoon and wait outside the venue the band soon arrive with several SIS members, We manage to have a quick chat with JJ before the soundcheck and shortly afterwards Rebecca from SIS comes out and puts us on the guest list. Great start! So off we go to the uni. bar and have a couple of pints.

We then go to the venue which is a big hall and watch the support acts. First it’s ‘Dr Spratt and his 21st Century Motets’–or something like that! Didn’t really like them though. Next up are a band from France ‘Taxi Girl’ (left) and pretty good they are too.

It’s about 22.00 and the now familiar opening bars of Waltzinblack start–it’s a great start to the tour the band are on top form with 5 new tracks from La Folie–Non Stop, The Man They Love To Hate, Golden Brown, Tramp and Let Me Introduce You To The Family. I’m a bit disappointed there’s no Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead but you can’t have everything.

Other highlights being Threatened, Baroque Bordello and Tank and the encore which Hugh introduces ‘Here’s a bit of cabaret’. He starts to sing along to Dave then the band launch into a full blooded version of Bring On The Nubiles–brilliant–and they finish off with Duchess and The Raven. As on the Gospel… tour, there’s not much early stuff, with nothing at all off Rattus, but there’s still more than enough to keep us happy.

So that’s it time for the long drive home to Derby where we arrive about 03.00.

15th November Birmingham Odeon
We’re close to home tonight so it’s a day return to Brum. There’s the three of us from yesterday plus Dean, Mick and Monty. We’re a bit late getting there and none of us have got tickets so we’re really struggling to get in. Luckily we all manage to get tickets one way or another. I end up in the circle upstairs right at the back. Just as Waltzinblack starts, there’s a massive surge to the front and the security try to keep the crowd back. They’re not very successful!

It’s a great atmosphere tonight, the Odeon is a great venue and the gig ends with quite a few on the stage.

16th November Cardiff Sophia Gardens
Myself, Dean and Chris have booked the week off work as we’re travelling gig to gig. We set off nice and early. The venue’s a short walk from the centre, unfortunately we miss the band at the soundcheck. It might sound a bit cheeky but we try to get on the guest list whenever we can. If we can save money that way, it might mean we can make another gig. Luckily I manage to see JJ just before the gig and he gets the tour manager–Rob I think his name is, to get us in.

It’s a big hall and there’s a lot there, but the atmosphere isn’t like the night before. Nevertheless it’s still a good show. We walk back to the station, it’s a bit lively as there’s quite a few characters about but we make it safely. Catch the train to Bristol Temple Meads and spend the night in a waiting room that over the years becomes a regular bedroom for us.

17th November London Hammersmith Palais
Train to Paddington and manage to see JJ before the gig. Chris has got a friend, Steve, who he met on holiday who’s going to let us sleep at his mum’s in Motspur Park. So it’s a great start to the day. We have a few pints in a nearby pub which is really busy with plenty of black clad fans around.

We go into the Palais, it’s the Stranglers’ first time here I think. it’s a lot smaller than last night but the atmosphere is amazing. I don’t think I’ve spent a Stranglers gig more squashed than this. I’m near the front but we’ve all lost track of each other and I can do nothing but sway with the crowd. It’s a brilliant gig and we all meet up outside very sweaty. What a gig–great night!

18th November Day off
It’s a day off today so we stay in London as Steve’s mum has let us stay another night. It’s Southampton tomorrow so no point in going back home and travelling all the way back again.

Southampton Gaumont-photographer unknown

19th November Southampton Gaumont
Get to Southampton nice and early–refreshed after two decent nights sleep. The venue is just around the corner from the station and we manage to have a chat with the band before we go for a drink in nearby pub. The band played at the Gaumont on the MIB tour and, as with then, it’s another great gig. They’re a great crowd and there’s no overbearing security who let the crowd enjoy themselves even allowing a stage invasion.

It’s straight back to London after the gig and spend a few hours kipping at St. Pancras before our train back to Derby.

20th November Nottingham Rock City
We’re close to Derby tonight so it’s back home for a quick bath and change of clothes and we’re off to the Rock City. It’s a great venue and absolutely packed to the rafters–there’s a brilliant atmosphere again tonight–the MIB yet again on top form.

Well that’s the end of the first week. It would be very difficult to pick one gig above the others, but possibly London just shading it. As usual The Stranglers have been superb and the new stuff very well received. I must say I like the bass echo delay effect that JJ has.

The setlist has been usual gig intro Waltzinblack into Non Stop, Threatened, JLNOE, Second Coming, The Man They Love To Hate, The Meninblack, Who Wants The World?, Baroque Bordello, Golden Brown, Tramp, Tank, I Feel Like A Wog, Let Me Introduce You To The Family, Nuclear Device, Genetix, encore Nubiles, Duchess and The Raven. Thrown Away and How To Find True Love… were also added during the tour…

21st November Day off

22nd November Edinburgh Playhouse
We missed this gig. For some reason we couldn’t go tonight so that’s the first missed gig on the tour…

23rd November Glasgow Apollo
This week all the gigs are up north so myself and Dean have booked another week off work. We’re fully refreshed and raring to go. We’re really looking forward to going to Glasgow again, especially the legendary Apollo. Dean has never been before and doesn’t know what a good night he’s in for…

We see JJ before the soundcheck and he very kindly puts us on the guest list. We’re given tickets in some boxes at the side and have a great view so I get the camera out. What a shame I didn’t get one with a zoom lens! Anyway the closer we get to show time the better and better the atmosphere is getting. By the time Waltzinblack starts, it’s absolutely fucking electric. When the band finally appear they go mental and keep it up all the way through. Dean can’t believe it. It’s easily the best show so far, but as usual those idiotic security tossers are there lining the front of the stage which must be about 12 feet high. Do they think everyone’s got ladders inside their leather jackets?!!!

Onstage at Glasgow Apollo with it’s courteous bouncers

Now we have to find somewhere to sleep so we hang about until the vast majority have gone and see the night caretaker. He’s the same bloke as on the MIB tour who let me sleep in the stalls. Unfortunately no such luck this time, he can’t let us stay so we have to find somewhere else. We have a good walk round trying to find anywhere suitable but it’s not looking good. We end up in a multi storey car park! At least it’s out of view and sheltered from the wind as, as all Glaswegians know, it’s a bit breezy come November!

Anyway, as can be expected, it’s not a very good sleep and we’re up early and fucking freezing, so it’s off to the station and the train to the next city.

24th November Newcastle City Hall
Get the train to Newcastle, the Railcard is proving it’s worth again. There’s snow on the hills and it’s really cold. Get to the venue and see a couple of faces we’ve seen a few times, Mark Senior from Sheffield and Greg Herman from Wolverhampton. We’ve also seen Gary Bainbridge a few times. Greg is pretty quiet but Mark is the life and soul, a very lively character. He’s a big fan of Taxi Girl and gets to know them, even travelling to some gigs with them.

The City Hall is a big venue with upstairs seating that comes all down the sides so myself and Dean perch ourselves in the balcony at the front just above JJ. It’s a great view, yet another good show and another lively crowd. As Hugh starts Nubiles, JJ looks up to us and mimes along to the cabaret start–very bizarre! I can only assume there was a pretty girl behind us!!

We’re not looking for a car park tonight-fuck that!!! So we go to the station and go to one of the waiting rooms. This is a bit better than last night. Myself and Dean are sat there thinking ‘why is it so warm in here?’ Then we realise the waiting room has got under floor heating- YES thank you god!!! With that, it’s sleeping bags out and on the floor and pretty soon we’re asleep–a deep, deep sleep.

The next thing we know it’s about 8.30 in the morning and the waiting room is packed full of people going to work or whatever! They’re giving us rather strange looks and thinking ‘who are these two dossers?’ We get up laughing to ourselves and put the bags away. We sit and wait for our train, it’s slightly embarrassing but, fuck it, we’re 19 years old and on tour with The Stranglers so we don’t give a shit!!

25th November Manchester Apollo
We’re looking forward to a return trip to the Apollo, a venue The Stranglers had visited on their two previous tours and both good gigs they were. We don’t get there until late afternoon and have missed our chance to see the band and the gig has totally sold out! We hang around at the stage door hoping to see somebody we know, or try to get a ticket from anybody, but unfortunately tonight we’re well and truly out of luck… Before we know it, we can hear Waltzinblack and we’re still stuck outside-absolutely gutted! We hang about for a while but before long. we’re trudging off in defeat–the second gig of the tour missed!! We’re not happy…

One piece of good news I’ve arranged for us to stop at my Grandma’s house–bless her–who lives in Alsager near Crewe. So, we get the
train to Crewe and taxi to Alsager and have a nice warm bed for the night. We’re up early in the morning for a bath and a breakfast of bacon, eggs
and oatcakes (a local delicacy) then a kiss for Grandma and it’s off to the station.

26th November Liverpool Royal Court
Today we make sure we’re going to get to the venue in time so it’s early afternoon as we’re walking across Lime St station minding our own business. All of a sudden–WHACK–some young scally git has smacked me in the mouth–the little bastard. My first intention is to chase him and get my revenge but there’s quite a few of these scallies around and a few older ones so we decide to find a pub. Dean sits pissing himself laughing at me for about 5 minutes–thanks mate! I eventually see the funny side and we go to the venue which is just a few minutes from the station. We manage to see the band before the soundcheck and get on the guest list. That’s cheered me up a bit even though Dean’s still laughing to himself!!

It’s another sell out tonight. It’s quite a small venue and pretty packed. It’s good to see the MIB again after missing last night. We decide to get the train to Manchester to try and find somewhere to sleep. We only end up finding a multi storey car park, it’s not a brilliant nights sleep.

27th November Bradford St. Georges Hall
We meet Mark and Greg at the venue. Greg has started to help out S.I.S on the merchandise a few times. He is another one, like Gary Bainbridge, who went to follow The Stranglers on tour and ended up working for S.I.S.

The hall is in the city centre near the venue and it’s very busy as it’s a Friday evening. It’s another packed gig and yet another good one. It’s nice to return to old venues, but also good to go to new ones if they’re any good, and the St. Georges Hall is pretty good. Dean and myself decide to get the train to Leeds, while Mark and Greg stay there. Mark quite often tries to go to the band or crew’s hotel to find a party. We end up sleeping on Leeds railway station (or should I say trying to) as it’s Friday night there’s a lot of drunks about making a lot of noise. It gets a bit lairy at times with the police coming and people running across the tracks. Luckily it quietens down and in the early hours and we manage to get a few hours kip. Train back to Derby as day breaks and return home. We’ve only got to travel to Sheffield tonight and I want to watch Derby v Chelsea
today, which ends up in a near riot!

28th November Sheffield Lyceum
Get the train on my own as Dean has gone earlier. Meet up with Greg and Mark, who’s on top form tonight as it’s his home town gig. It’s a milestone for me too as it’s my 50th Stranglers gig! We have several beers and go and enjoy ourselves down the front–great gig.

Luckily we bump into the band coming out afterwards and they stop and have a good chat. I tell JJ that I don’t think we’ll be at the next gig as it’s in Belfast so we’ve all decided to give it a miss!! See you at Loughborough…

2nd December Loughborough University
After some days off whilst the band travel to Belfast, we’re back in action in England with just a short trip on the train to Loughborough university.
Mick, my main companion on the MIB tour, has joined us tonight. We meet up with Mark & Greg and Gary’s on the merchandise stall as well. We have a good chat with Gary as it’s the first time Mick has seen him this tour.

We then go to make our way into the main hall where everyone’s bags are being searched and our cameras taken off us. This really pisses me off as I’m just a fan taking photos for my own use. Miserable gits! It’s not a very big hall and it’s well packed again .

There’s a slight change in the set tonight as How To Find True Love… replaces Tramp but I don’t think it has quite the same impact. Tramp is definitley one of the best tracks on the new album and goes down well every night. Nevertheless The Stranglers are yet again superb. It’s a bit of a walk to the station so we’re straight off afterwards.

3rd December Bath Pavillion
I’m on my own from now on as Dean has used all his holidays. I get there pretty late but luckily bump into JJ and the tour manager outside and get in just as Taxi Girl are finishing. I quite like them, some venues they go down well and some not so well. Mark is a big fan of Taxi Girl and we stand in the foyer talking to them as we wait for The Stranglers. There’s a couple of faces that are looking familiar too-Krista and Lynsey who hail from Evesham.

JJ & Hugh Bath ’81

As Waltzinblack starts I wonder if there will be any trouble here as there was on the WWTW tour when JJ decked a skinhead on stage. I have a look around but can’t see any skinheads. The show passes off trouble free. It’s a good crowd with proper security–you know they’re there but
they don’t stop anyone having a good time! There’s a couple of mini stage invasions… One lad can’t quite make it fully on stage so he just lies there while JJ virtually stands on him with that sick, sadistic smile on his face. As the song ends, he thanks JJ and crawls back into the crowd! I manage to clamber up by the speakers and get a really good view and start working overtime with the camera.

Brilliant gig tonight, really enjoyable helped by unobtrusive bouncers. The night ends with a train to Bristol and another night in the waiting room…

4th December London Rainbow
This is the last day of the tour so I want to enjoy the whole day. I get the train early and arrive in London late morning and even see a few sights.
I get the tube to Finsbury Park to the legendary Rainbow, my favourite London venue, that has been the scene of some great Stranglers nights.

It’s very difficult to catch the band beforehand at London gigs as there’s many other people trying to see them as well. So I go to the pub just across the road and have a few pints. There’s plenty of other fans to chat to even though it’s early afternoon. I leave the pub and go to ticket office and enquire about the guest list which they haven’t yet recieved. I wait and wait and then go back and enquire and then wait a bit more and enquire. After a couple of hours, another lad is asking and in the end she gives us both guest tickets, great result.

Go and make my way inside and watch Taxi Girl for the last time. It’s a great atmosphere tonight which builds up waiting for the MIB. The venue
is, as I said, my favourite in London where I’ve seen The Stranglers. The floor slopes down towards the stage so everyone, even a short arse like me, can get a decent view.

I’m feeling knackered now so I just stand back enough to get a good view without getting knocked about. It’s a brilliant gig tonight, one of the very best of the tour. The Stranglers put on another great show and, as ever, there’s plenty of fans onstage at the end. I stay and watch the Sprats dressed in the white sheets spelling FOLIE for one last time and that’s it…


I managed 14 out of the 17 gigs and, yet again, it’s been an amazing experience meeting many more great new friends. Best of all though is seeing THE STRANGLERS on absolute top form, playing a great set to packed crowds all over the country. Great, great times.

But that’s not the end… Dates had just been announced for a part two tour in January and February 1982. These really are golden times being a Stranglers fan! Two albums and two tours in the same year and another tour in a few months. Don’t forget, it had also only been 18 months since WWTW tour–golden times indeed…

Thanks to Phil for another amazing diary of his exploits seeing the band all those years ago…

All photos and memorabilia courstesy of Phil Coxon

JJ and Hugh, Bath Pavilion December ’81