The Stranglers - celebrating 500 gigs with Baz

A great gig from The Stranglers began with 'Toiler' and finished with 'Tank'. Strong songs, these were for the real fans, who know more than the singles. Alternative drummer Jim kicked it off, with Jet Black taking over two thirds of the way through the set and both kits smashing the final encore. Despite Jet's illnesses, he can still hold his own on stage and is immensely rhythmically talented.

At the start of the encores, JJ came on to make an announcement and the audience held their breath. One of the most popular live acts in the UK today and for more decades than most of us would care to remember, most of us are dreading the moment when the farewell tour is announced. And you know with these guys that any such decision would not be made lightly and would not be up for discussion.

Instead, the announcement was positive and heartwarming. For Baz Warne, the new boy, this night saw his 500th show on guitar and vocals. There may be die-hard fans who regret the line-up changes over the years, but no-one can deny Baz's impact on the band. "I'm speechless," he said, before making a speech, albeit brief.

I'm in the fortunate position of being granted Access All Areas with The Stranglers and my children have grown up on their gigs. Now that my youngest is taller than all of them (including their driver - his dad) and my oldest has been part of their touring crew, they really are like part of the extended family. That doesn't stop me turning into a huge fan as soon as they hit the stage and I take my position front of house with the sound and lighting guys,

We all have favourite Stranglers tracks. You might not know it, but you probably love JJ's bass line on 'Peaches' as much as the next man. No matter your age. My favourite remains 'Always the Sun', although 'Sleazy' retains a certain appeal.

It didn't seem to matter to the audience - everyone had their favourite song. It didn't matter whether they were men of a certain age, much like the band, or the significant proportion of women and younger people. Last year's 'Giants' album has introduced a whole new audience to the songs. Much like the Wilko Johnson Camden gig earlier in the month, this is a band who can still play awesome songs like they were written yesterday. And they weren't even a second late on stage.

This is very much a four-piece band. JJ gives up his perfect backing vocals to sing lead vocal on songs that he has always led on and Dave still leads on keyboards when called for. Usually one-handed, while swigging from a pint in the most debonair, rock 'n' roll style.

Behind them throughout the show was a visual light-show that teetered on the edge of distracting. Each track had a separate light show, done with a sense of humour that added to the overall effect. Nevertheless, it was the songs that shone through.

Billed as the Feel It Live tour, you could really feel it. Live.

Posted via my iPad

Location:Birmingham O2 Arena