THE Stranglers have been performing for an incredible 43 years now but the "meninblack" use this experience wisely, keeping things fresh by changing round their setlists and mixing the hits - of which there are plenty - with a variety of deeper album cuts.

Their visit to Newcastle this week coincides with the re-release of their first six albums. Original members, bassist JJ Burnel and keyboardist Dave Greenfield, are now augmented by Sunderland born guitarist/singer Baz Warne and drummer Jim MacAuley.

Grabbing the audience’s attention from the start, they opened with “Toiler On The Sea” from 1978’s “Black and White” album. The band’s signature sound, Burnel’s deep, growling bass and Greenfield’s rippling keyboards, driving the song forward.

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From there through to a climactic, set closing “No More Heroes” some twenty three songs and almost two hours later, the band never let up. The tour is titled the Classic Collection and that’s exactly what the band delivered in a powerful performance.

The early albums that established the band’s unique sound during the days of punk were well represented. “Grip”, “Down In The Sewer”, “Something Better Change”, “Dagenham Dave”, “5 Minutes” and an utterly glorious take on “Peaches” - the iconic opening bass riff eliciting a roar of approval – and there was a thrash through “Go Buddy Go” during the encore.

The more melodic post-punk chart friendly songs were not forgotten either – “Always The Sun”, “Strange Little Girl” and “Golden Brown” were played back to back in mid set showcasing Greenfield’s skills

Dave Lawrence