The summer of 1980 proved to be an eventful one for the band, offering no respite from their Annus Horriblis. Following Hugh’s incarceration earlier that year, the events at a certain gig on the French riviera had led to more prison time for the band. Immediately after their release, the band returned home and went straight out on tour around Britain.
Having first seen them two years before, Phil Coxon from Derby (right) had well and truly caught the gig going bug at this stage. For the first time, he decided to head out around the UK following the forthcoming Who Wants The World? tour from gig to gig. Here’s his diary of his travels:
It’s early April 1980 and, having just been to the two Stranglers and Friends gigs at the Rainbow while Hugh is stuck in Pentonville nick, like all Stranglers fans, I am left waiting the next gig.
Last month’s Strangled said that a British tour this year was unlikely–very disappointing. The next issue of Strangled arrives with news only of some European dates in June, Who Wants The World? is released in May and then, in June, brilliant news! The music press announces the band are to do a British tour next month!
I’ve only been to two or three gigs on previous tours but this time I feel like doing something more substantial. I ask around a few friends and get two of them, Tony and Mick, to come along so we all book the first week of the tour off work, see how it goes and take it from there.
The tour is less than three weeks away when disaster strikes! The band are arrested in France following a riot at their gig at Nice university, shit, what happens now? This is massive news on TV and for the tabloids.
Dave is quickly released but Jet, JJ and Hugh are remanded–terrible news. They were kept locked up for a week then unexpectedly released but JJ must reappear at a later date. This is great news… The band do a couple more European dates then it’s back home and the tour is back on with just over a week to go–can’t fucking wait now!
This is it, the day has arrived! My first time following The Stranglers on tour, the most I’d been to previously was just three gigs on the Raven tour. This time we’re attempting a lot more so, with a great sense of excitement, myself and Tony get the train to the smoke mid morning, Mick is on holiday in Torquay and is meeting us at St. Austell.
Have a couple of pints near St. Pancras then it’s on the tube for Finsbury Park and The Rainbow. We get there just in time to see Hugh arrive and talk to a fan outside who we get to know on our travels–Dave from Cheshire. It’s only mid afternoon so we just wait around outside the venue watching the crew set up and pretty soon the doors are open and in we go.
There’s two support bands The Tea Set, who are pretty good, and Headline, a group of black guys dressed in suits who are pretty good too with their signature tune “Don’t Knock The Baldhead”. The atmosphere is getting good when all of a sudden the lights dim and this strange music starts playing. It’s all keyboards and high pitched funny noises- what is this!? Anyway, the band come on to massive cheers and Dave launches straight into Shah Shah A Go Go which segue’s into Ice–a great start.
JJ walks to the mic and says “it’s great to be back–no, it’s FUCKING great to be back!” and bursts straight into that wonderful intro for Toiler On The Sea–superb. Duchess then Hanging Around follow with the latter going down particularly well. Now we’re onto new territory with Hallow To Our Men or, as Hugh informs us, the Lord’s Prayer. It is quite a long track where Jet starts on the cymbals and they all come in one by one. I love these sorts of tracks where all the individual instruments can be heard but blend together superbly–Dave’s keyboards very impressive on this track. Another new one next called Waiting For The Meninblack which is quickly followed by the latest single Who Wants The World? where JJ adds extra bass compared to the recorded version. Then another new one, sung by JJ, with a very simple beat called Flown Away –yes, that’s what we thought it was called at first but later learn it’s THROWN Away.
Down In The Sewer follows and is absolutely fucking awesome, then I Feel Like A Wog. What a fantastic gig this is turning out to be, the band are obviously relishing being back home (slight understatement!) and are playing out of their skins. Tony and myself are loving it as are the rest of the crowd. It’s now time for a bit of Black & White—Tank sees the crowd go mad, then Nuclear Device straight into Genetix with that amazing bass work from JJ. Next Jet starts thumping away on his bass drum–it’s Five Minutes–this track, and it’s brilliant video, cemented my love for this band and it’s no less impressive live. They slow it down a bit now with Peaches and the superb Raven—back to Black & White with Death and Night and Blood, with the bass deafening, and finally Burning Up Time. Well, what an absolutely fucking awesome gig–I’ve only been to one other to rival that–Bingley Hall back in ’78.
Please note that the set list might not be totally spot on but it’s what I had in the old diary. Other tracks were also played during the tour–JLNOE, Princess Of The Streets, Four Horsemen and Baroque Bordello.
The whole crowd is buzzing after witnessing that, but now we’ve got to find somewhere to sleep! We wander around for a bit and end up dossing in a disused garage.
July 9th Day off
No gig today, but, as tomorrow’s gig is in Crawley, we make our way down there–a bit of a mistake really–we should have stayed another day in London instead of sleepy little Crawley.
Anyway, it’s mid afternoon and we’re sat on a bench in the town centre, both of us looking a bit rough after our lack of sleep, when a woman, probably in her mid twenties, sits next to us and starts talking. Tony says we’ve just hitched from Derby–not strictly true–and she says we can stop at her place if her husband doesn’t mind, she gives us her address and off she goes! Very strange, two young lads that she’s never met before and she’s offering us a bed for the night. So, in the early evening, we make our way to her place-it’s on a new estate called Bewbush- and ring the doorbell. She comes out and says sorry but her husband won’t let us stay, can’t blame him really. Off we go and, as it’s a new estate, there are plenty of houses semi built so we decide to sleep in one of them.
Get there nice and early, the venue is just a small sports hall, just a bit different to the Rainbow. The crew are setting up so we watch and chat with Bruce Gooding. A bit later the band arrive, JJ comes over and sits with us and has a drink. We chat for about five minutes or so before I pluck up the courage to ask if there’s any chance he could put us on the guest list for St. Austell. We’ve got tickets for a few gigs but not that one, so he kindly writes our names down. He goes into the soundcheck and obviously now me and Tony are feeling pretty happy.
It’s time for the gig. We have a chat with the two blokes on the merchandise who reckon The Stranglers are past it and wouldn’t last much longer!! We just give them a funny look and leave them to it. It’s not a particularly memorable gig apart from the local skinheads starting on anyone who seemed like an out of towner. A few fights break out in the crowd and Hugh, as ever, admonishes the troublemakers. Once the gig is over, we decide to go back to Bewbush and sleep in one of the unfinished houses again. The skins get on the bus and, seeing us with our bags, say ‘hello lads stopping over are we?’ Eek, oh dear, what’s gonna happen now-fortunately they leave us alone.
July 11th Bristol Colston Hall
We’re up nice and early as we don’t want to stay here any longer than we have to. We catch a train to Victoria and have our first meal for 3 days before we get the coach to Bristol, we would prefer to get the train but the coach was that bit cheaper. We get there mid afternoon and there’s three lads with bags, we chat to them and discover they’re from Sheffield and are going to a few dates so we stick together. Sadly I can’t remember any names but they were good lads. The atmosphere is already far better than yesterday!
We chat to more fans, locals are always intrigued when they see you with your bags and like to chat. Two Bristolians that I can remember were called Andy and Bill (Belinda). Bill, with her two friends, became known as the NIBs–Nubiles-In-Black. I still see Bill to this day at gigs. So off to the gig to see the supports–I quite like The Tea Set and they seem to be good lads. The music between live sets is being provided by Andy Dunkley.
As I said the atmosphere is a lot better than last night and so are The Stranglers! The set is a bit shorter than The Rainbow but is still brilliant with the new ones going down well. We’ve really enjoyed Bristol and say goodbye to our new friends and we set off. Rather foolishly we have arranged with the Sheffield lads to try and hitch to St. Austell, which was not a good idea! We make our way to the motorway and, before long, we are picked up by a bloke on his own who has obviously had a few drinks. He drops us off at the services me and Tony manage to get a lift off a trucker.
It’s early morning and we find ourselves walking along a quiet road in Burnham On Sea, although we don’t know how far we’ve come. We manage to get a bus to Taunton, then another bus to Exeter. It’s already been a long day and, when we finally get on the train at Exeter, we know we must be nearly there. A lady on the train says that the venue is a long way from the station and advises us to get off before St. Austell at Par and walk from there. It was a long bloody walk across the cliff tops but we can see the venue below us – at last we’ve made it–I can also see Mick down there who’s now joining the tour.
It’s great to see Mick but we haven’t eaten and we are bloody knackered. Gig time soon arrives and in we go to enquire about the guest list. Good to his word JJ has put us on the list–fucking brilliant!! This livens us up and we really enjoy the gig–Mick is well impressed too. Time to find the station and, as the old lady had said, it was a long walk, but we get there in the end. We go in the waiting room, get in our sleeping bags and we’re soon away. We all sleep really well and I awake to find several other people using my sleeping bag as a pillow, but I don’t mind. Some of these people we’ll never see again, but we are all Stranglers fans and that’s all that counts
July 13th Southampton Gaumont
I’m feeling a bit better this morning after a decent sleep, having had none the previous night. Tony though has had enough and decides to head for home–lightweight! So that just leaves Mick and myself to make our way to Southampton by train. It’s a bit of a trek but we’re there early afternoon and, luckily enough, see the band arrive. Mick is a bit good with the chat and explains that we are planning to go to lots more gigs and if we could get on the guest list we could save money and go to even more. JJ remembers me from our chat at Crawley and they agree and on the list we go. Okay, it sounds a bit cheeky, but we’re only young and the more money we can save on tickets the more we can spend on travelling to gigs.
We’re very happy now. It’s pretty quiet as it’s a Sunday so there’s nothing to do but wait for showtime. When it arrives, yet again, it’s well worth the wait. We’re sat in a separate area down the side and have a great view. The crowd is very lively with a few ending up on stage (which was really the norm in those days). It’s a great set and the new stuff is being well received. We try to get on the station but I don’t have a valid ticket so we can’t get on ’til the morning. The night is spent sleeping behind some cars in a garage forecourt opposite the Gaumont.
July 14th Ipswich Gaumont
We’re up early as it’s another longish journey, train first to London then across the city to get the train to Ipswich. Get to the venue and see Mike Henry, the tour manager, who remembers our names and puts us on the list. Great stuff, that’s three nights in a row now! As it’s a Gaumont, the venue is very similar to last night’s. We watch the supports again, Headline don’t really do a lot for us, but we quite like The Tea Set. It’s another great show from The MIB but the crowd is a bit quieter.
As we’ve got a long wait for the train, we just loiter around the venue and manage to get invited into the band’s dressing room. There are quite a few people in there including the man mountain Joe Seabrook (the band’s security man), DJ Andy Dunkley and various other people/fans. We manage to get a bit to eat and drink and sit about chatting for about an hour. We leave with the band as they go to their hotel and we go to ours–if only!
The night is spent just waiting for our trains. It’s a day off tomorrow so we are both heading home. As Mick works on the railway, he gets free/reduced travel so he’s going home via London as it’s quicker. I’m getting train to Cambridge and then a bus from there back to Derby as it’s the cheapest option. It’s a long bus ride from Cambridge and takes several hours. I must admit I’m ready for home now. When I finally get there, my Mum takes one look at me and says “get them clothes off and get in the bath” now. Considering I left home a week earlier, I’d probably changed my shirt and underwear just the once–no baths or showers! I just feel sorry for the person sat next to me all the way home from Cambridge!!
Anyway the first week is over and it has gone beyond my dreams–guest list, backstage chatting to the band and fucking brilliant live sets–I want more…
July 15th Day off
Much needed to recover from last week’s exertions—food, sleep and personal hygiene!
A short journey today so it’s a day return to Brum. It’s our first visit to the Odeon and an impressive venue it is too. We could only get tickets in the rear circle so it’s not a great view. The atmosphere is electric and there’s a mass of bodies down the front. It really is a brilliant gig tonight and several fans get onstage during the encores.
We’ve got a bit of time to kill before our train so we hang about and luckily manage to get backstage again. There’s a few other fans including a couple of starstruck young ladies who’s unhappy looking boyfriends suddenly appear and drag them away! We have a drink with Mike Henry, who continued to be very helpful to us, he’s a good bloke. It’s time to get the train, it’s been another top night.
July 17th Sunderland Locarno
I’m not making the trip today but Mick goes alone.
July 18th Glasgow Apollo
We both miss this one.
July 20th Edinburgh Playhouse
I made no plans to go today but Mick decides to go alone.
I’m stuck at work but Mick is going straight from last night’s gig. The day is wearing on at work and I’m getting more and more pissed off at missing the gig’ especially after missing the last three. I ask one of the lads at work if he fancies driving me to Blackburn after work and surprisingly he agrees! So we’re off straight after work for the 90 mile or so drive. Obviously it’s a bit late by the time we get there and most people are already inside. Luckily I see Andy Dunkley outside who very kindly gets us in and I surprise Mick by tapping him on the shoulder. Anyway it’s not one of the best gigs so far but still a great show. We’re stopping over so after walking around looking for somewhere to sleep we decide to doss down in a small shopping centre.
July 22nd Manchester Apollo
Short journey from Blackburn on the train so we are there nice and early and find the venue. There’s quite a few people we have seen at various gigs, including a group of five or six girls going as the ‘WIBs’ and two girls from Southend. These two were a good laugh and very down to earth, unfortunately I can’t remember any names.
We spend a lot of the day in the pub right next to the venue with various members of support bands and roadies coming in. Mike Henry also comes in and says he’s put us on the list-great news! It’s a bigger venue than last night and better show from the MIB. We’re really enjoying the new stuff, for me especially Thrown Away and Hallow To Our Men, but the whole set is crammed full of classic Stranglers tracks. We’re going home tonight but there’s no train until about 6ish so we try and sleep on some benches on Piccadilly station.
A bit off the beaten track and not a place where many bands go but The Stranglers were gaining a reputation for visiting these places. The gig was a benefit in aid of the local steelworkers. It’s not too far for us, a train to Kettering then bus to Corby. It’s not a big venue but seems well packed. The band come on to massive cheers and kick off as usual in fine style.
Unfortunately, there are some idiots down the front who start gobbing at the band and it seems to get worse and worse as the show goes on. JJ and Hugh are obviously not happy at this. I’m surprised JJ hasn’t jumped in the crowd yet! The band go off after a shorter than usual set and, after a bit of a wait, it becomes obvious they aren’t going to do an encore. This irritates some of the crowd who shout and jeer, calling the band pop stars! WHAT? Mick and myself argue back that the band have come here to a place where hardly any other bands play, it’s only about 75p a ticket and you repay them by gobbing constantly! As Hugh might say, bunch of morons!!! With that, we were off. A disappointing end to the night.
July 24th Stoke Kings Hall
Mick’s not going today and I need the day off work as the last train is too early to see the gig. I ask for a holiday but am turned down so, fuck it, I’m having a sickie! Stoke is only about 35 miles away but the train service between Derby and Stoke is shit. Luckily, I have a lot of relatives in the vicinity so manage to get a bed for the night at one of my aunts’. I’m there about 6ish and, as usual, the pirate t shirt sellers are plying their trade. All of a sudden, the road crew appear and a lot of shouting and arguing kicks off but this lot aren’t having any of it and refuse to leave. There are more faces I recognise- but don’t know names- and I just nod hello. Another cracking show from the band and another lively crowd–my uncle picks me up outside and off we go, a night in a bed, luxury!
July 25th Oxford New Theatre
It’s a no show from us today.
July 26th Day off.
Me and Mick get the train down. It’s the last gig proper before a bit of a break and a few more gigs in a few weeks. The Lyceum is quite a bit smaller than The Rainbow and it is so rammed inside that we can hardly move. It’s a fucking superb gig
The set was Shah Shah into Ice, Four Horsemen, Toiler, Duchess, Thrown Away, Hanging Around, Hallow To Our Men, Waiting For The MIB, Down In The Sewer (amazing as ever), Who Wants The World, Princess Of The Streets, JLNOE, Tank, Nuclear Device into Genetix encore Baroque Bordello and The Raven. Brilliant gig! We’re wet through with sweat, but had no time to hang about as we have to rush off to get the last train home. It has been an amazing few weeks, far better than I could have hoped for. We met some great people, met the band a few times and saw some absolutely brilliant gigs. For the band, their relief at being back home and back onstage seemed to show. For us, the lack of sleep or food and all the travelling was well worth it, but it wasn’t quite over as there’s was a handful of gigs mid August.
After a few weeks off we’re back on the road again. An early train to London then on to Guildford, it was the first time for us to see the band in their home town. Get to the venue and The Tea Set lads are there. We had a few chats on the tour with these lads and got on really well with them especially Nic, the singer, and Cally, the drummer. They’ve got a football so we have a kickabout in the hall until the band arrive and then everyone stands about chatting. The WIBS arrive as do the two girls from Southend.
It’s a good venue and, yet again, it’s another packed house. The set is pretty much the same as the main tour. Another excellent night which ends with us backstage with several other fans. One in particular stands out, with his Geordie accent, talking to JJ about martial arts. It’s a certain Gary Bainbridge who becomes a very good friend on future tours. Manage to get a few hours sleep in a shop doorway then on the station.
August 18th Bath Pavilion
We get there early and, as it’s a nice day, all of us that have been travelling around sit on the lawns and have a few beers enjoying the sun. Gary is there too talking with Jet’s brother as SIS set up the merchandise and a few of us manage to see the soundcheck where they do Death & Night & Blood.
It’s a really good gig but, unfortunately, yet again, there are some skinheads there being a bunch of pricks and trying to cause trouble. The venue’s security is struggling to cope when, mid song, one of the skins jumps on stage and starts seig heiling! JJ is obviously not too impressed and, in the blink of an eye, lands a right hander on him. The skin flies through the air and lands back with his mates. They are pretty quickly on their toes and gone for the night to massive cheers from the rest of the crowd. JJ only missed about three notes and carries on as if nothing has happened. The atmosphere changes straight away and it’s yet another cracking show. We end up backstage again for a drink and a few sandwiches (some days that’s all we eat!). We get the train to Bristol and spend the night on the station.
August 19th Nottingham Theatre Royal
This was part of a series of gigs that were being filmed for a TV programme called ‘Rockstage’. I see the band before the soundcheck and JJ puts me on the guest list as Mick is not here today. The doors open and I ask for the guest list and they say there isn’t one! Those on the guest list can only see the band after the gig not the gig itself. Shit, that’s not good! It’s a small venue and totally sold out so I’ve got no chance of getting in. I manage to get backstage and have a chat with JJ and thank him for his help on the whole tour. This is my last gig as I can’t make the last one in Liverpool tomorrow.
So it all ended a bit disappointingly by missing the final date, but I had managed to see 14 of the 20 gigs. It had been a amazing and unforgettable experience. I hope you enjoy reading this diary. Yet again, it’s been a pleasure to share my memories of those days. I just count myself very fortunate to have been born when I was and witness some truly brilliant times with The Stranglers.
Thanks again to Phil for another brilliant read and his memories from all those years ago…
Archive pictures-photographers unknown
Thanks to Stephen Baker for colour Rainbow shots