The Stranglers & Wilko Johnson: Manchester Academy

Mike Marling started the night off, drawing in the crowds closer and closer, for the big lead up to former Dr. Feelgood stay Wilko Johnson. Backed with the equipment from all the three acts of the night the stage looked awesome and Wilko really did fill it. The audience now full already. Wilko whipped the crowd to a frenzy with his trademark, often imitated guitar style and stage presence with some immense guitar solos, I was especially impressed with that of the bass solo… A good two/three minutes which also really impressed the crowds.

Already by the second and third song the crowds were hyped and swaying. The guy to my right really seems to be really getting involved.  I thought you only danced like that in clubs! Is the ‘moshpit’ at the back of this place?

I think what may have let Wilko down a little was there appeared to be a lot of staff presence on the stage. Whether picking things up or adjusting something new. Maybe people didn’t really notice, but I found it a touch distracting.

Suddenly towards the end of Wilko’s set, all the women were jeering with the men in the audience looking dazed and confused. Looking up, two men streaked across the set mid tune. Very funny to see. I can only imagine the thoughts of Wilko, while these two naked men ran across holding balloons. A true Professional Wilko carried on going. I was too far away at the time to realise that the two guys were members of The Stranglers (Later admitted by them!).

The long instrumentals continued from Wilko and the band, leaving crowds roaring with the sound of bass solos and string instrumentals. Though commenting on the amount of stage presence previously, I will admit that the lighting of the stage and strobes were impressive and well timed.

Finishing with ‘Back in the night’ the set was closed emotively and powerfully, followed by a huge cheer.

Then with a long pause to the backing track of Waltz in Black appeared the stranglers. Will they play the classic ‘Golden Brown’? Maybe they will keep it till the end. Maybe I was being very stereotypical, but I really wanted that song! By the third song in the crowds were on top form!  Whilst the classic images of rats and eagles were projected behind the band. You really don’t realise how popular their music is. There are songs in films that you tend to completely forget about The staging was impressive yet simple, with great back lighting.

I was very impressed with ‘Always the sun’ – the strobes acting in time with the smash of the wooden glock instrument! I felt like I was in ‘Tron’.

And then it was played, Golden Brown… Tune.

Near the end of the gig, they teased the audience by saying they wouldn’t play an encore…

They did…

They ended with ‘No more heroes’… The bass solos really ended the night well.  Awesome.